The Project Gutenberg EBook of History of Company E of the Sixth Minnesota Regiment of Volunteer Infantry, by Alfred J. Hill and Charles J. Stees This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: History of Company E of the Sixth Minnesota Regiment of Volunteer Infantry Author: Alfred J. Hill Charles J. Stees Release Date: August 11, 2008 [EBook #26276] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SIXTH MINNESOTA REGIMENT *** Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)
It will be remembered by those connected with the military service that towards the end of the late Civil War, there went through the camps and barracks of the volunteer soldiers agents of publishing houses busily engaged in procuring material for "company histories," and still more anxiously soliciting subscriptions for the same. These histories were mere broadsides or charts, giving the name and rank of each man, with a few other personal facts, compiled from the muster rolls, and in addition an abstract of campaign movements, battles, and so forth; all the information being brought up to date of subscription. Of course as permanent and final records such publications would be failures, there being no "next" in which to "conclude" their stories.
While the Sixth Minnesota Infantry Regiment lay at New Orleans, one of the visitations described occurred to it (this being a very successful one), and thereupon a member of Company E proposed to a comrade the getting up of something of the kind among themselves, to be of home manufacture. Time permitting, the work was then commenced, continued in the field, and kept up with current events till the order for return home of the command to which the company belonged. Serious illness of the compiler, and the scattering of the members of the company, prevented the finishing of the work at the intended time, and caused its indefinite postponement.
As a contribution, though humble, to material for some future history of the part taken by Minnesota in the war for the Union this little book has been completed and published, and the writer would be greatly pleased if its appearance should stimulate the necessary research for the putting on record in somewhat similar form of the histories of other companies of our state regiments.
ALFRED J. HILL.
St. Paul, Minn., 1869.
ORIGIN AND ORGANIZATION—1862.
In the spring of 1862 a sixth regiment of infantry had been called for from Minnesota by the Governor of the State, but, from various causes, the enlistments proceeded very languidly till the disasters of the Virginian armies in the summer and the consequent proclamations of the President of the United States for volunteers gave an immense impulse to recruiting.
Under such circumstances it was that the "Sigel Guards," afterwards Company E of the Sixth Regiment, were projected and raised. In the month of June, Mathias Holl, of St. Paul, was authorized to recruit for the proposed company; and on the 23rd of July, twenty men having been enlisted, he received a regular recruiting commission. Rudolph Schoenemann and Christian Exel, of the same city, also engaged in the work in connection with Lieutenant Holl, themselves enlisting in the company on the 6th and 14th of August, respectively. Many of the members, however, were not obtained particularly by these gentlemen, some having been recruited for other companies or regiments and transferred involuntarily to the Sigel Guards, others who had purposed enlisting in other companies—that never were filled—having joined it of their own accord, while a large proportion acted as their own recruiting officers, and made it their first choice. The names of those recruited for, or who intended to join, other organizations, are as follows, viz.: (1) Beckendorf, Besecke, Detert, Gropel, Mahle, Mann, Metz, J. J. Mueller, Schaefer, Simon, and Temme, were to have belonged to the company projected by Messrs. Klinkenfus, Knauft, and Krueger, of Lower Town, St. Paul. They joined in a body. (2) Bast, Blesius, Blessner, Dreis, Fandel, Greibler, Hoscheid, and Neierburg were enlisted August 15th by Messrs. Julius Gross and Lieutenant Kreitz, of St. Paul, for the Tenth Regiment, but were transferred to the Sixth. (3) George Paulson, a recruit for L. C. Dayton's company (St. Paul) for the Eighth Regiment, was transferred to the Sixth. (4) John, Kilian, Kraemer, Meyer, Praxl, and Radke came to Fort Snelling from Winona, as recruits for the Seventh Regiment, but enlisted instead in the Sigel Guards. All the recruits were enlisted and sworn in as privates except the drummer, the period of enlistment being "for three years unless sooner discharged."
The general rendezvous was at Fort Snelling, and, the "minimum" number (83) having been obtained, the company was provisionally organized there, on the 16th of August, by the enlisted men expressing, by vote, their preference for candidates to fill the commissioned offices, and by the captain, then chosen, appointing the non-commissioned officers. Schoenemann and Holl were thus respectively elected captain and second lieutenant of the Sigel Guards, and were commissioned as such, on the 19th, by the Governor of the State, and Lieutenant Exel, already commissioned (August 11th), accepted as first lieutenant.
By the 19th of August the aggregate number of members was 94; their names, rank, etc., being shown in the following roll:
|*Rudolph Schoenemann||Prussia||Aug. 14|
|Christian Exel||Hesse Darmstadt||Aug. 6|
|Mathias Holl||Hesse Darmstadt||July 23|
|Justus B. Bell||Ohio||Aug. 4|
|George Huhn||Bavaria||Aug. 7|
|*Frederick Scheer||Prussia||July 23|
|Ernst J. Knobelsdorff||Prussia||July 29|
|*Elias Siebert||Hesse Cassel||Aug. 2|
|*Paul P. Huth||Prussia||June 13|
|John Burch||Prussia||Aug. 13|
|*Mathias Mueller||Prussia||Aug. 5|
|*William Rohde||Hesse Cassel||Aug. 2|
|Peter Leitner||Bavaria||Aug. 6|
|Reinhard Stiefel||Prussia||Aug. 7|
|George Sauer||Bavaria||Aug. 7|
|Richard Mueller||Prussia||Aug. 8|
|*Charles Seidel||Prussia||July 9|
|Bast, William||Luxemburg||Aug. 15|
|Beckendorf, Peter H.||Prussia||Aug. 14|
|Becker, Mathias||Prussia||Aug. 13|
|Besecke, Ferdinand||Prussia||Aug. 14|
|Blesius, John||Prussia||Aug. 15|
|Blessner, Charles||Luxemburg||Aug. 15|
|Boos, Michael||Bavaria||June 12|
|Bristle, Christian||Baden||Aug. 4|
|Detert, Henry||Prussia||Aug. 14|
|Dreis, Nicholas||Luxemburg||Aug. 15|
|*Eberdt, Charles||Mecklenb||Aug. 13|
|Eheim, Joseph||Austria||Aug. 14|
|Fandel, Henry||Luxemburg||Aug. 15|
|*Ferlein, Joseph||Bavaria||June 2|
|Fischer, Louis||Switzerland||Aug. 16|
|Gaheen, Samuel||Canada||Aug. 14|
|*Gantner, Jacob||Switzerland||June 10|
|Goldner, Joseph||Prussia||July 23|
|Griebler, Joseph||Prussia||Aug. 15|
|*Gropel, Henry||Prussia||Aug. 14|
|Hahn, F. Carl||Wurtemberg||July 23|
|Harrfeldt, August||Holstein||July 28|
|Hauck, Jacob||Baden||Aug. 14|
|*Hellmann, Herman||Prussia||Aug. 9|
|Henricks, Frederick||Prussia||July 28|
|Henricks, Henry||Prussia||Aug. 5|
|Hill, Alfred J.||England||Aug. 14|
|Hill, William A.||Virginia||July 22|
|Hoscheid, Nicholas||Luxemburg||Aug. 15|
|Jakobi, Conrad||Hesse Darmstadt||July 18|
|John, Jacob||Bremen||Aug. 18|
|*Juergens, Louis||Waldeck||Aug. 16|
|*Kellermann, August||Prussia||Aug. 14|
|Kernen, Jacob||Switzerland||Aug. 14|
|Kilian, Philip||Hesse Darmstadt||Aug. 18|
|*Klinghammer, Louis||Prussia||July 9|
|*Kobelitz, Frederick||Bremen||July 28|
|*Koenig, Louis||Baden||Aug. 12|
|*Kraemer, Frederick||Wurtemberg||Aug. 18|
|*Krueger, Henry||Schleswig||Aug. 15|
|Mahle, William||Wurtemberg||Aug. 14|
|Mann, Jacob||Wurtemberg||Aug. 14|
|*Martin, Frederick||Prussia||Aug. 16|
|Metz, Charles||Hanover||Aug. 14|
|Maurer, John J.||Prussia||Aug. 13|
|Meyer, John H.||Ohio||Aug. 18|
|Mueckenhausen, Joseph||Prussia||Aug. 14|
|Mueckenhausen, Mathias||Prussia||Aug. 14|
|Mueller, John Jacob||Wurtemberg||Aug. 14|
|Munson, John||Sweden||June 26|
|Neierburg, Michael||Luxemburg||Aug. 15|
|Parks, Thomas M.||Pennsylvania||June 13|
|*1Paulson, George||Prussia||July 28|
|Paulson, Paul||Norway||June 10|
|Peterson, Ole||Norway||July 28|
|Porth, William||Prussia||Aug. 7|
|Praxl, Anthony A.||Austria||Aug. 18|
|Radke, Rudolph||Prussia||Aug. 18|
|Rehse, August||Prussia||Aug. 4|
|*Reimers, Joachim||Holstein||Aug. 13|
|*Reuter, Henry||Hanover||July 23|
|Rossion, Jean||Belgium||July 31|
|Schafer, Henry||Canada||Aug. 14|
|Schauer, August||Prussia||Aug. 4|
|Scheibel, Augustin||France||Aug. 15|
|Schene, William||Hanover||Aug. 12|
|Schermann, George||Austria||Aug. 11|
|Schoenheiter, Frederick||Prussia||Aug. 16|
|Simon, John||Prussia||Aug. 14|
|Smith, Joseph||France||Aug. 14|
|Smith, William A.||Indiana||Aug. 19|
|Sproesser, William D.||Wurtemberg||July 23|
|Stengelin, Gottfried||Wurtemberg||July 16|
|Temme, Charles||Prussia||Aug. 14|
|Wetteran, Louis||Wisconsin||Aug. 5|
|Willialms, August||Sweden||June 10|
|*Wolf, Anton||Prussia||June 2|
* In military service before.
With the exception of less than half a dozen, all of the above were residents of Minnesota, fifty-four being from St. Paul, eight from Winona, and the remainder from other parts of the state. Twenty-four of the members had been soldiers previously, many of them having seen active service—seventeen in European armies, one in the United States regulars, and six in the United States volunteer forces. Wolf—then a boy of sixteen—enlisted in Bulow's Army Corps, fought at Quatre Blas, and was present at the battle of Waterloo.
SERVICES IN MINNESOTA AGAINST THE SIOUX INDIANS—1862-63.
Immediately after the organization of the company the usual recruit life began. Military clothing and equipments were issued, squad drill commenced, and light guard duty done in and around the fort. The quarters of the company were two rooms on the northern side of the parade grounds, with a kitchen and dining room below. Fritz Stirneman, a civilian, but an ex-soldier of the First Regiment, assisted by Rossion, was hired to do the cooking.
The monotony of barrack life, however, did not last long. The news of the outbreak of the Sioux Indians in the western part of the state turned all thoughts from anticipations of Southern campaigns to the necessities of the hour. The regiment was put on a war footing, orders to march were issued, and arms and accoutrements supplied to the men; four Sibley tents being allowed for the enlisted men of each company. On the 20th of August the first battalion of the Sixth Regiment, consisting of three companies, left Fort Snelling for the scene of the massacre, and, together with Company A, which had been ordered to march across the country, arrived at St. Peter on the 22nd. All being ready, the second battalion, including Company E, embarked on the evening of the 22nd, on the steamboat Wilson for the upper Minnesota River. At the time of embarkation the aggregate strength of the company was 94, the number present being 84; the absentees being Lieutenant Exel, on recruiting service; John, Harrfeldt, Kraemer, Martin, Meyer, Praxl, and Radke, on furlough; Dreis and Fandel, who had not yet joined; and Porth, left behind at the fort on account of inability to march.
On the morning of the 23rd we disembarked at Shakopee, 24 miles from the fort. From this day commenced the official organization of the regiment, it being the date of Colonel William Crooks' commission. The route followed was through Jordan, Belle Plaine, and Henderson, to St. Peter, where we arrived on the 24th. All the companies of the Sixth were now concentrated at this point, where an expeditionary force was collecting for the relief of Fort Ridgley, then sorely pressed by the Indians. On the 26th the expedition commenced the march, and arrived at the fort on the 28th; the regiment encamping on the prairie near by.
H. Henricks was appointed wagoner of the company on the 30th. Also on that day Louis Thiele, a Prussian settler of the neighborhood, whose family had been murdered by the Indians, enlisted in the company as a private.
On the 31st an expedition under the command of Major Joseph E. Brown, consisting of the Union Guards (Company A), under Captain Grant, and a detail of men from the other companies of the Sixth Regiment, and the Cullen Guards under Captain Anderson, was dispatched to the Lower Agency to bury the dead, and ascertain if possible the position of the enemy.
Early on the morning of September 2nd, rapid firing was heard in the direction of the Agency. The scouts reported that the detachment under Major Brown was attacked and surrounded at Birch Coolie, 20 miles from the fort and 3 miles from the Lower Agency. A second detachment under Colonel McPhail, consisting of the Hickory Guards (Company B), Sigel Guards (Company E), Young Men's Guard (Company G), of the Sixth Regiment, under Major McLaren, also some cavalry and one howitzer under Captain Mark Hendricks, was at once sent forward to their relief. When within three miles of the beleaguered force, the demonstrations of the Indians became so threatening—coming near enough to shoot one of the horses—that the commander of the relieving party, not daring to fight his way through, made a halt, had the horses unhitched, and disposed the men to meet the expected attack, but, as the enemy did not return any nearer to us, we shortly fell back some distance to a better position. Night soon came on and it was spent watchfully by the men behind their corralled wagons, the silence being broken only by the occasional firing of the howitzer. The firing had been heard at the fort and towards morning the little force was strengthened by the arrival of the remainder of the Sixth Regiment, the Seventh Regiment, which had just arrived at the fort, and two pieces of artillery. About daylight on the 3rd, the combined forces were drawn up in line of battle, ready to move; the Indians soon appeared and commenced the attack, but the return fire was so heavy, and evidently so unexpected, that they almost immediately retreated to the woods in the coolie, from which they were driven by the heavy fire delivered by the artillery. The Indians having been repulsed, the whole force continued their march to Birch Coolie camp, and the Indians then abandoned the attack of the party there, though the soldiers of the first relieving party were not allowed the honor of driving them, which was given to the Seventh Regiment. After burying the dead and attending to the wounded, the troops returned to their camp at Fort Ridgley.
Five men of the company were with the original detachment at the battle of Birch Coolie. R. Mueller and Klinghammer were severely wounded, the former in the side and arm, and the latter in the leg. They were cared for at the post hospital. Dreis and Fandel were there, having accompanied the volunteer cavalry from St. Paul; Dreis joined on the 4th and Fandel, being wounded in the hand, went to the hospital. Thiele, too, was present at this fight. About this time Lieutenant Exel with the seven furloughed Winona men returned.
Shortly after this affair the order of the adjutant general of the state was received and published, fixing the letters of the companies according to the rank of the respective captains. The Sigel Guards were the fifth company, and so became E; in position it was therefore the seventh from the right wing of the regiment, and had, when marching during the summer, Company A of the Ninth Regiment in front, and Company K of the Sixth in the rear.
While preparations for the campaign were progressing, the troops were drilled daily in the "school of the soldier" and "of the company;" and, among other things, trenches were dug at the fort, and beyond the camps. About the middle of the month Eberdt was detailed as regimental pioneer.
On the 18th of the month the expeditionary force took up the line of march from its base at Fort Ridgley. Crossing at the ferry near by, the route pursued was on the south side of the Minnesota River, fording the Red Wood at the usual place, and touching Wood Lakes, about three miles from Yellow Medicine, which was reached on the 22nd. On the morning of the 23rd the Indians surprised a foraging party half a mile distant from the camp. The Third Regiment formed in line, and, crossing a ravine, opened fire on the Indians, but immediately received orders to fall back. The Third recrossed the ravine, and, the Renville Rangers coming to their support, the Indian advance was checked. Captain Hendricks placed his artillery in a raking position at the head of the ravine, and soon dislodged the enemy. On the right, Colonel Marshall with five companies of the Seventh Regiment, and Companies A and I of the Sixth under Lieutenant Colonel Averill, charged and drove the Indians from their position. On the left, a similar flank movement was repelled by Major McLaren with Companies F and K of the Sixth, while the remainder of the regiment was held in reserve. The action lasted about two hours, at the end of which time, the Indians being unable to withstand the murderous fire of shot and shell rained upon them, fled with great precipitation, and thus ended the battle of Wood Lake. The whole plan of battle seems to have been of defense, fought on the old lines of chivalry—man for man, instead of bringing all the troops in line of action and dealing the enemy a crushing blow at the beginning. This mode of action may have been very nice from an Indian's point of view, but the men in the reserve who stood in line of battle for nearly two hours, and those engaged at the front who were held back and not allowed to drive the enemy, would have preferred a little less chivalry and a few more dead Indians.
On the 25th the line of march was again taken up, and on the 26th we arrived at the camp of the "so-called" friendly Indians, where were most of the white captives taken during the insurrection, and who in a day or two were delivered up. This place was nearly opposite the mouth of the Chippewa River, and near by, about a quarter of a mile south of the Minnesota River, was formed the camp ever afterwards to be known in local history as Camp Release, from this memorable surrender of captives there.
On the 4th of October, Captain Whitney, with two companies of the Sixth and one from the Seventh, was sent below in charge of the Indian prisoners to gather the crops in the vicinity of the Yellow Medicine Agency. On the 5th all the company present, 91 in number, were mustered into the military service of the United States, "for three years from their respective dates of enrollment." On the 13th, Colonel Marshall was sent to the westward with a detachment consisting of Company G of the Sixth Regiment, 100 men of the Third, and one howitzer, in quest of the Indians reported to be near the headwaters of the Lac qui Parle River and Two Lakes (Mde-nonpana) in the Coteaus. The expedition returned on the 21st, having penetrated the prairies nearly to the James River, and having in charge about 150 Indian prisoners, including men, women and children.
By company order of September 22nd, Corporal Huth was promoted to fifth sergeant, and Privates J. Smith and Martin appointed seventh and eighth corporals, respectively. On October 13th warrants bearing the same date were made out and signed by the colonel for all the non-commissioned officers, making the grades agree with said order, but causing them to take effect from the 18th of August. On the 14th Company F left for Yellow Medicine to reinforce Captain Whitney. On the night of the 15th, Captain Merriman, with Company B and 35 mounted men (including 25 scouts), made a raid beyond the lower Lac qui Parle, and captured 23 lodges, in all 67 Indians. On the 18th W. A. Hill rejoined. While at Camp Release the duty performed was chiefly guarding the Indian prisoners, foraging, and serving on camp guard,—a very strict and irksome one. Company drill in the morning and battalion drill in the afternoon were also required.
Though within sixty miles of depots of supplies, and though the majority of the fighting men of the insurgent Indians had either been captured, or had surrendered, or retreated further up the Minnesota river, the rank and file of this small army had here to suffer for the want of commissary stores,—truly following the advice of the ancient philosopher to leave off eating with yet a little appetite. Had it not been for the potatoes of the Indian gardens and cattle of the slaughtered and fugitive settlers—which provisions, though costing nothing to the government at the time, were made to offset the amounts due for non-issued rations, the source of "company funds"—we would have been nearly starved.
The return march was begun on the 23rd of October, on which day the weather turned suddenly cold and a high wind rose, which blew down many of the tents at Yellow Medicine that night. Arrived at the Lower Agency on the 25th, and then went into camp at Camp Sibley; and remained there till the 8th of November, and then resumed the march. The next day the company was detailed as guard for the prisoners, two men being assigned to each wagon. Though the troops left the village of New Ulm a mile or more to the left, yet the citizens, exasperated at the sight of the Indians in the wagons guarded by the soldiers, lined the road opposite the town in great excitement, hurling stones and endeavoring to get at the Indians, in which they partly succeeded. On the 10th we arrived at Blue Earth River bridge, and camped a little beyond it, on the townsite of Le Hillier (L'Huillier) and immediately south of the isolated bluff at the mouth of the river,—the camp being called Camp Lincoln.
Here Eberdt was relieved. Fischer left on the 15th on furlough, from which he never returned; Juergens and Knobelsdorff, sick, were sent to the hospital at Mankato the same day. Gaheen, Gantner, Meyer and Parks had been detailed or detached as regimental teamsters during parts of October and November, but by this time were all with the company again for duty.
The regiment marched, by the way of Mankato, to St. Peter, on the 17th, having traveled to the latter place, since leaving Fort Snelling in August, as a regiment of the expeditionary brigade, about 350 miles. The campaign being terminated, the companies departed to their various assigned winter stations,—Companies A, B, G, H, and K for Fort Snelling; D for Forest City; E for Hutchinson, McLeod county; and C, F, and I for Glencoe. Lieutenant Holl was detailed as quartermaster and commissary for the company during its separation from the regiment.
On the 18th of November we left St. Peter with Companies C, D, and F: four miles beyond New Auburn parted with C and F, and with D at Hutchinson, where we arrived on the 20th. This place was already garrisoned by Company B of the Ninth Regiment, quartered in good log houses, but there was no accommodation for the newly-arrived company, and fatigue parties had at once to be set to work cutting and hauling logs for building. The season, however, being too far advanced, the work was abandoned, permission having been obtained to hire quarters at Kingston instead. On the 24th Dreis died of diphtheria. He was buried in the village burial-grounds near by. Seven men had to be left at Hutchinson on departure,—five sick and two as nurses.
On the 28th we left for Kingston, traveling by the way of Greenleaf, Round Lake, and Forest City, and reaching destination the next day. An old frame store near the mill on the west bank of the Crow River was used for barrack purposes, and by the erection of a log kitchen and bake house, with some other improvements, served the purpose very well. Duties were light, provisions good and ample in quantity, and the time passed pleasantly enough. A system of furloughs was inaugurated, and every man had the privilege of fifteen days' leave of absence. After the departure of Fischer, Koenig had to cook alone, and when he went on furlough, December 16th, Gantner and Rossion conducted the kitchen in the interim. Sergeant Burch left on furlough on the 16th, but being detailed in St. Paul at District Headquarters he did not return to the company at the expiration of his leave of absence; also Griebler, who did not return to Kingston either. Sergeant Scheer was reduced to the ranks at his own request on the 20th, and on the same day Corporal Burch was, by company order, promoted to fifth sergeant; also privates Neierburg and Eheim were appointed, respectively, seventh and eighth corporals, on the 4th of January, 1863, to fill vacancies, the enlisted men having shown their preferences by special election; the same day also Gaheen and Hauck were similarly recommended for company cooks, and were detailed as such. Juergens rejoined on the 13th. A. J. Hill left for Washington, D.C., in obedience to orders from the Headquarters of the Army requiring him to report there for duty; same day John left on furlough, but, becoming ill, did not return to the company at its expiration. Sproesser was detailed as company fifer on February 1st. Klinghammer rejoined, sick, on the 6th; he having been mustered in at Fort Ridgley on the 13th of October.
The company being ordered to Fort Snelling, where the headquarters of the regiment were, left Kingston on the 27th of February, on the arrival of Company H, which relieved it, and traveled, in sleighs mostly, by the way of Clear Water and Dayton, reaching the fort on the 1st of March. Quarters were assigned it in the old barracks, near the sutler's store, and the usual routine of drill and guard duty began again. Here Fandel joined, sick, and Griebler rejoined. Jakobi was detailed as company bugler on the 22nd, and John rejoined on the 29th. Private Kobelitz was on the 1st of April honorably discharged, for disability. The regiment went into camp on the river, about a mile above the fort, on the 4th, and Sibley tents were issued as before. George Paulson left on detached service for Yellow Medicine on the 12th, afterwards (in June) acting as orderly at regimental headquarters. William Gabbert, a Prussian, resident of St. Paul, enlisted as private in the company on the 13th. Privates Griebler and Maurer left on the 17th on a (forged) pass, but did not return at the proper time, and were afterwards found to have deserted. Privates Harrfeldt, W. A. Hill, and Meyer were, by District order of the 1st of May, transferred to the Third Minnesota Battery.
INDIAN CAMPAIGN IN MINNESOTA AND DAKOTA—1863-64.
At the end of April, 1863, orders were received to rendezvous at Camp Pope on the upper Minnesota River. Fifteen of the men had to be left behind at the fort, viz.: J. J. Mueller and Reimers, on detached service; and Becker, Fandel, Gantner, John, Kellermann, Knobelsdorff, Koenig, Mann, J. Mueckenhausen, Peterson, Schauer, Scheer, and Wolf, sick. On the 28th of April Companies E and D embarked on the steamboat Favorite, but could go no further by water than to within about three miles of Mankato, thence going on foot, arriving at their destination on the 5th of May.
Camp Pope was not an original settlement, but a spot selected especially as a base of operations against the Indians; for which purpose storehouses had been erected there. It was situated on the river about a mile and a quarter above the crossing of the Red Wood River. On the reassembling of the regiment the company held the same rank (5th) and position (7th) as before, but had as neighbors Company G on the right and Company I on the left.
In the latter part of the month (May) a regimental band was formed, and Seidel, Eberdt, and Jakobi were detailed as members of it. J. J. Mueller and Reimers rejoined on the 5th. Detert was detailed as regimental pioneer on the 15th. The expedition being ready, those sick and unable to travel were left behind at Camp Pope; of Company E, Hellmann and Paul Paulson remained there. The strength of the company present at this time was 68, and aggregate number 85.
The second expedition for the chastisement of the Dakotas left Camp Pope on the 16th of June, 1863. The 19th and 21st of the month were spent in camp. On the 23rd, transportation permitting, the knapsacks of the men were carried in wagons. The valley between Big Stone Lake and Lake Traverse was reached on the 26th, and a camp established about a mile from the latter on the south side of the Minnesota River (there but a rivulet), which camp was situated near but outside of the state boundary. The camp was called McLaren, and three days were spent there. From here a detachment consisting of three companies of infantry, including Company H of the Sixth Regiment, some cavalry, and one piece of artillery, all under command of Lieutenant Colonel Averill, was dispatched to Fort Abercrombie for supplies. Klinghammer, unable to march, was sent along to the fort. It may be here noted, as a matter of interest to hydrographers, that Lake Traverse was not at this time an unbroken sheet of water, as a corporal of Company G crossed it on foot near the middle, seeing the lake in two parts, to the right and left of him.
Resumed the march on June 30th, and forded the Sheyenne River on the 4th of July, camping a little beyond it at a spot three-quarters of a mile northeast of the two mounds called "The Bowshot" and in the neighborhood of where the fight occurred about forty years before between the Pawnees, Shawnees, and Sheyennes, which, as I am informed, resulted in the annihilation of the last-named tribe. At this place,—named Camp Hayes,—70 miles distant from Camp McLaren, the expedition lay six days, awaiting the supply train, which arrived on the 9th. Resumed the march on the 11th, on which day Lieutenant Exel left on furlough. The 12th was spent in camp. The second crossing of the Sheyenne was made on the 17th. On the 18th arrived at two lakes named Jessie2 and Leda, 90 miles from Camp Hayes. An entrenched camp was established on the banks of the former (the more easterly one of these two lakes) which was about three miles long. The camp was called Atchison, and a day and one-half were spent there in making arrangements for a vigorous pursuit of the Indians. Companies C and G of the Sixth were stationed there as a part of the garrison, and five of the company were left behind there, viz.: Seidel, Eberdt, and Jakobi, as members of the band, and Kraemer and Reuter, who were too sick to travel.
On the 20th, all the arrangements having been completed, the expedition began a more rapid advance in pursuit of the enemy, and on the 24th of July, 89 miles from Camp Atchison was fought the battle of "Big Hills" or "Big Mound." As soon as it was known that the Indians were in force, the train was corralled on the margin of a small lake, Big Mound being directly to the eastward and distant about one and one-quarter miles. The Sixth Regiment with one company of Mounted Rangers and a section of artillery occupied the east front, and threw up a line of earthworks for protection. As soon as the attack began, Colonel Crooks at once deployed Companies E, I, and K of the Sixth and A of the Ninth, under Major McLaren, as skirmishers, and they pursued the Indians two and one-half miles. Three companies of the Sixth were also deployed on the left flank, and the Indians were repulsed at that point. Major McLaren with companies A, B, D, I, and K advanced four miles at a double-quick, having been ordered to support the troops already at the front, but on their arrival they were ordered to return to camp.
On the 25th the expedition moved only about five miles to a better camping place and remained there on account of the jaded horses. On the 26th, with the Sixth Regiment in advance, the march was resumed. On arriving at Dead Buffalo Lake, some 15 miles from the last camp, the Indians again appeared in force and commenced an attack. Colonel Crooks immediately deployed a part of the Sixth, including Company E, as skirmishers, under Lieutenant Colonel Averill, and they advanced steadily, driving the enemy as they went; the remainder of the regiment under Major McLaren being held in reserve. After an advance of about one and one-half miles Major McLaren with five companies of the Sixth was ordered to return to the camp at the lake, three companies remaining at the front. Desultory firing was kept up until about 3 p.m., when the Indians made a final assault, which was repulsed in fine style by the troops under command of Major McLaren. The Indians, having been defeated at every point, now withdrew from the field.
On the morning of the 27th the advance was again resumed, and in the afternoon a camp was formed on Stony Lake. On the 28th, as the troops were forming in column, the Indians again appeared and made their last charge. About one mile beyond the lake the Sixth Regiment was deployed to skirmish on the right of the train, and they repelled the attack of the Indians who threatened it. The firing continued for a time, the Indians finally making a rapid retreat in the face of the advancing expedition. The pursuit was continued until Apple River was reached, where a camp was formed for the night.
On the 29th the army crossed Apple River, continuing the pursuit, and in the afternoon the Missouri River was reached, the regiment, under the immediate command of Colonel Crooks, skirmishing nearly two miles through the woods to it. The Indians having crossed to the west bank and hoisted white flags, the battery which had been advanced, and was in good position for shelling, was moved away, as the policy seemed to be to kill Indians only when they made an attack. Many of the skirmishers ventured to the river bank and began filling their canteens, when suddenly the enemy fired at them from the other side and the men were forced back, but not without sending a volley in return. A camp was formed on the banks of the Missouri River near the mouth of Apple River. The point on the river struck was in about 46° 40′ north latitude, 600 miles from Fort Snelling by the route followed, 6 miles above the mouth of Apple River, and 85 miles from the Big Mound.
On the 30th Colonel Crooks with Companies A, I, and K and details of men from other regiments, proceeded to the Indian crossing, and destroyed all the wagons and such other property as would be of service to the Indians, and then returned to camp.
The return march began on the 2nd of August. The 5th and 9th of the month were spent in camp. Passed to the southward of the outward journey, shortening the route some thirty miles, and arrived at Camp Atchison on the 10th. Rested on the 11th. Reached Sheyenne River on the 13th, and camped three miles beyond it.
At this last place the nightly entrenching, commenced on departure from Camp Pope, was abandoned, the impulse of discontinuance coming from Company E. It had been the custom, both in the campaign of 1862 and this, to throw up every evening light exterior mounds and ditches for defense, a work necessarily irksome and unpopular with men fatigued with hard marching, and in the presence of an enemy (and some times not) they neither respected nor feared. The traces of these works, slight as they were, will be visible for years, and if properly noted by the surveyors of the public lands as the surveys extend westward, and by future Pacific Railroad parties, will furnish means for exactly determining the routes of the two expeditions; certainly as regards that of 1863, which lay through trackless wastes, over which not even an odometer passed with this expedition. It is to be regretted that the commanding officer of the expedition, lavish as were the expenses attending it, thought fit to negative a proposition made to form a quasi-topographical force for its use. Such a proposition would have involved no other expense than that of a few simple instruments for the use of the surveyor and his assistants (enlisted men) who might be detailed, and their labors would have furnished valuable material for the maps which were afterwards ordered to be constructed, besides contributing to the interests of geographical science in general.
The 16th and 18th of August were spent in camp. Reached Fort Abercrombie on the 21st and camped on the west side of it; distance from Camp Atchison about 115 miles. Remained at the fort three days. Here Klinghammer rejoined. Resumed march on the 25th. Spent the 30th in camp. Arrived at Sauk Centre on the 2nd of September, and remained there all the next day. Here Rehse was left behind, sick. At this place the expeditionary forces were divided, the Sixth Regiment being ordered to Fort Snelling. We left Sauk Centre on the 5th; and spent the next day in camp. The route was by the way of St. Joseph, St. Cloud, and Anoka, and the neighborhood of the fort was reached on the 12th; the return route from Apple River being about 510 miles.
John and Scher rejoined on arrival at the fort, and Seidel, Eberdt, and Jakobi were relieved, the band being temporarily suspended. Corporal Eheim was sent to the hospital on the 18th.
Companies A, C, E, F, G, and H, being ordered to Fort Ridgley, left together on September 19th, going by the way of Bloomington, Shakopee, Jordan, Belle Plaine, and Le Sueur. At the latter place Gantner rejoined on the 22nd. Passed through Traverse, and came to Fort Ridgley on the 25th. Detert was now relieved. Here the destinations of the companies ordered to guard the southwestern frontier of the state were announced. Of Company E the main body (or two-thirds) was to proceed to the station at Lake Hanska in Brown county (35 miles off) and the remainder to the post of Cottonwood (12 miles), to relieve the troops there in garrison. Accordingly on the 28th the movement took place, the smaller force reaching its assigned position the same day, the main body taking two days for its journey. While at Lake Hanska, Sergeant Bell left for St. Paul, where, on the 9th of November, he was commissioned second lieutenant of the company.
Company E, having been designated (in lieu of Company F) as part of the escort to the train fitting out to convey provisions to the Indian bands removed from Minnesota to Crow Creek Agency or Fort Thompson on the Missouri River, was ordered to rendezvous at New Ulm, which was done on the 29th of October by both the detachments. The smaller one had left Big Cottonwood on the 25th under orders to garrison Buffalo Creek station (25 miles northeast of the fort), but immediately on reaching that place received the counter order. By the promotion of Sergeant Bell to the second lieutenancy, Sergeant Huhn became first or orderly sergeant, according to company order of the 1st of November.
Left New Ulm on the 3rd of the month, and reached Mankato, 28 miles distant, the assembling point of the train and escort, the next day. Eberdt and Jakobi left on the 4th to report at Fort Ridgley, and Lieutenant Holl for St. Paul. Seidel and Sproesser left, on the 6th, for Fort Ridgley, Corporal Steifel was sent there sick, and Radke was sent to the hospital at Mankato on the same day.
The expedition, with Captain J. C. Whitney in command, started on the 7th. The escort consisted of Companies D, E, and H, of the Sixth Regiment. The 9th, 10th, and 11th were spent in camp, also the 14th at Leavenworth, where the nuts were taken off the wagons (said to have been done by the men of Company D who felt themselves aggrieved). Sergeant Siebert, sick, left for St. Peter on the 15th, and Bast on furlough; from which, falling sick, he did not return at the appointed time. Reached Des Moines River, near the outlet of Lake Shetek, on the 18th, and there remained in camp all the next day. Here Lieutenant Holl rejoined and commenced to act as first lieutenant, having been commissioned as such November 7th; the present strength of the company was now 59, and aggregate 79. G. Paulson accompanied the expedition, but is not reckoned in this number, as he was on detached service at the headquarters of the expedition. The route of the train was a few miles to the northward of the Red Pipe Stone Quarry, and the Big Sioux River was reached and crossed—53 miles from Lake Shetek—on the 23rd. Crossed the James River, 90 miles from the Big Sioux, on the 28th. Arrived at Fort Thompson, 75 miles further, on the 2nd of December, and remained there three days. This fort is a stockaded inclosure about 500 feet square, built to include and protect the Agency and barracks; it is 95 miles, by river road, above Fort Randall, two miles from the Missouri, and about a mile from Crow Creek. On the 5th left the fort for return. Remained in camp on the 14th, twelve miles below Yankton; Corporal Leitner was promoted fifth sergeant, and privates Juergens, Gaheen, and Hoscheid appointed to fill the vacant offices of sixth, seventh, and eighth corporal. The 17th was also spent in camp on account of a terrible snowstorm. Reached the neighborhood of Sioux City, Iowa, on the 18th, camping two and one-half miles northwest of it. On the 21st the troops again moved; traveling by the way of Melbourne, Cherokee, Peterson's, Spirit Lake, and Estherville, Iowa, they came to Fairmont, Minnesota, on the 30th. Remained in camp the next two days. Passed through Winnebago City and arrived at Mankato on the 3rd of January, 1864, when Company D left for the north.
This journey of about 750 miles—315 outward from, and 435 return to, Mankato—was accomplished in fifty-four days; and because of the rigor of the Northwestern winter, and much of it through a pathless country,—the command sleeping in tents on the snow-covered ground,—the men called it the "Moscow journey." The mercury at times stood 30° below zero, and never was above the freezing point.
Companies E and H returned by way of New Ulm to Fort Ridgley, 45 miles, on the 7th and 8th of January, having marched since leaving the former place in November about 825 miles. The only company of the Sixth Regiment at the fort at this time was A. Company E was assigned quarters in the stone barracks, on north side. The duties were not heavy and the time passed comfortably enough for soldiers. Musicians Seidel, Eberdt, Jakobi, and Sproesser now rejoined, but not for duty, being detailed in the band; also Sergeant Steifel and George Paulson. Sergeant Siebert rejoined on the 20th. Sergeant Huhn was detached as acting post hospital steward on the 27th, being afterwards discharged—on the 20th of February—to enlist in the same capacity in the regular army. Henry Steck, enlisted as private in the regiment on the 3rd of February and assigned to the company, joined for duty March 20th,—native country of recruit, Wurtemberg. Bast rejoined on the 10th, and Radke about the 15th. Captain Schoenemann left for St. Paul April 4th, and Lieutenant Holl assumed command of the company. On the 19th Sergeant Siebert was promoted to first sergeant and Corporal Stiefel to fifth sergeant, and privates Radke and Gabbert appointed seventh and eighth corporals, respectively; but the latter scarcely ever acted as such and was reduced to the ranks, at his own request, on the 13th of the following month. George Paulson was detailed in the regimental band on the 7th of May.
At the beginning of May a detail of about a dozen men of the company, under Sergeant Huth and Corporal Radke, were sent from Fort Ridgley to Milford—12 miles—to relieve the cavalry at that post. On the 15th Corporal Smith replaced Corporal Radke there. This detachment returned at the end of the month. While there the woods of the Big Cottonwood and in the neighborhood of Milford were thoroughly scouted, both by parties from Company E and from Company G (posted at Fort Wilkin and Madelia), but by the former traces only of the Indians were found.
The Sixth Regiment being ordered to rendezvous at Fort Snelling, to prepare for their departure to the South, in accordance with the order of the War Department of the 26th of May requiring it to report at Helena, Arkansas, Companies A, E, and H left Fort Ridgley on the 2nd of June. The only member of the company left behind there was F. Henricks, sick in hospital. Traveled by the way of Henderson, Belle Plaine, and Shakopee, and arrived at Fort Snelling on the 7th, and went into camp about a mile above the fort—Camp Crooks.
Between the 8th and 12th the following recruits joined the company for duty as privates, viz.: Edward Bryan, a native of Ireland, enlisted November 7th, 1863; Henry Wetterau, native of Wisconsin, enlisted February 4th, 1864; Peter Holtzmer, native of Luxemburg, enlisted February 5th; Joseph Rachel, enlisted February 11th; Michael Knopf, native of New York, enlisted February 24th; Charles Foglesang, native of Baden, and William Hildebrandt, native of Hanover, enlisted February 26th; Mathias Frank, native of Luxemburg, enlisted February 27th; Stephen Iwan, and Francz Troska, natives of Prussian Poland, enlisted February 29th; John Lieber, native of Nassau, enlisted June 10th,—and all were enlisted for three years. Of these Bryan had been enlisted for the company at St. Paul, but having been at once placed on detached service did not join his command till this time (the 8th); with him, from the same duty—herding mules at Glencoe—returned Rehse. Corporal Gaheen was detailed in the regimental color guard on the 12th; and on the 14th Captain Schoenemann resumed command, and Burch rejoined.
The sum of the distance traveled by the company from its organization to this time was over 2,700 miles.
SERVICES AT HELENA, ST. LOUIS, AND NEW ORLEANS—1864-65.
On the 14th of June, 1864, the whole regiment left Fort Snelling, marched to St. Paul, and embarked on the steamboats Enterprise and Hudson, each having two barges in tow for additional accommodation of the men. Arrived at Dunleith, Illinois, on the 17th and took the cars to Cairo, which point was reached on the 19th. Here wagoner Henricks, sick, was left in the hospital. Embarked on the steamer Empress at midnight, and arrived at Helena, Arkansas, and landed there, on the 23rd.
By changes in commissions occurring during the spring, the company had now become the third in rank and in regimental position the fifth from the right, with Company A in front and Company I in the rear or left. Its strength at the time of the arrival was, present 76, aggregate 84; the absentees being Lieutenant Bell and A. J. Hill on detached service, the two Henricks and Schauer sick, and Scheer, Iwan, and Troska left behind at St. Paul.
The regiment at once went into camp, on the bank of the river, one-half mile above the town. Shelter tents were issued now for the first time. The camp was called Camp Buford, and was the last one that was officially named. Troska and Iwan rejoined on the 24th, and also the next day A. J. Hill from detached service at Washington. Detert and Scheibel were detailed as regimental pioneers on the 28th and A. J. Hill as company clerk in the beginning of July.
From the beginning there was a close guard kept around the limited area occupied by the regiment, and it was maintained several weeks. The duty required by the District Commandant was chiefly prison and picket guard. In the first week of July orders were issued to build quarters, and fatigue parties were at once set to work cutting, hauling, and sawing logs for that purpose. Wagoner Henricks rejoined on the 18th.
Companies E and F being detailed to proceed to certain points with a view of obtaining information of the movements of the enemy, the major part embarked, with forty men of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry, on the evening of the 13th, on the steamboat Dove, and proceeded up the Mississippi River, reaching Buck Island (No. 52) on the next day, and searched it as ordered. Returned to the levee at Helena the same night, and lay there. Next day, the 15th, went up the St. Francis River, some thirty-five miles, to Alligator Bayou, then returned to Helena and into camp again. The Mississippi River part of this trip was under command of Captain Schoenemann, and the other under that of the major of cavalry. No guerrillas or other enemies were seen. The infantry forces did not land, but the cavalry did and scouted between the two rivers.
Kilian was detached as nurse in the regimental hospital on the 21st. Lieutenant Bell returned on the 22nd, and with him Scheer.
On the 26th of July the regiment went out about two miles beyond the picket lines on the Little Rock road to cover the retreat of some colored troops and cavalry who had been very severely handled that morning at a creek some few miles west of town. On the 1st of August it went out again on the same road as before, but not quite so far, and remained on picket in the woods on the right of the road during the night, returning to camp the next morning. It was understood that a projected attack by the enemy on the defences of the town was the cause of this movement. Nothing of the kind, however, took place.
The heat was now intense, and the sickness increased with alarming rapidity. The building of quarters was given up or postponed, and the houses, more or less finished, occupied as well as they could be. Company E managed to complete—walls and roof—one of the four prescribed barracks, but, being destitute of chinking, in a rainstorm it afforded but poor shelter. Being composed of log and frame houses, board and canvas shanties, the camp of the Sixth Regiment presented, by autumn, a melancholy variety indeed.
Bast was detached for provost duty in Helena on the 16th; on the 18th Schafer was detached for provost duty, and Praxl as nurse in the post hospital on the 19th. J. J. Mueller was detached as cook in the regimental hospital (now in town) on the 20th.
The following men of the company died while at Helena, viz.: Jean Rossion on July 25th; Joseph Rachel, July 27th; Louis Wetterau, August 5th; Frederick Schoenheiter on the 10th, Michael Boos on the 18th; August Willialms on the 23rd, and Henry Reuter on the 25th. The latter was the last of the company that died at Helena; all seven dying of disease. They were buried with the rest of the regimental dead on the summit of a rising ground about one-half mile northwest of the camp. Properly marked boards were placed at their graves.
In September the sick men had become so numerous that large numbers were sent north. Of Company E there went as follows: On the 1st of the month, Bristle was sent to the hospital at Memphis; Corporal Hoscheid, wagoner Henricks, Foglesang, Metz, Mueckenhausen, Rehse, Thiele, and H. Wetterau, sick, were sent to the hospital at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., on the 3rd; Sergeants Leitner and Stiefel, Corporals Neierburg, Juergens, and Radke, and Ferlein, Gabbert, Hauck, Holtzmer, John, Kilian, Kraemer, Krueger, M. Mueller, Munson, Schene, Steck, and Temme, sick, were also sent to Jefferson Barracks hospital, on the 19th. F. Henricks rejoined on the 21st, and on the same day Sergeant Rohde was relieved.
At about this time the once strong Sixth Regiment had become the shadow of its former self, and added little to the effective strength of the garrison of the post. It was pitiable to look at the companies as they marched to dress parade; very often having but half a dozen men in line.
Gantner was relieved on the 28th; and Bast rejoined on the 1st of October. The same day the following recruits, who had enlisted as privates for one year in the regiment, joined the company, and were two days afterwards assigned to it by regimental order, viz.: William S. Adams, native of Minnesota, enlisted August 25th; Henry Churchill, native of Vermont, enlisted August 27th; George R. Bell, native of Ohio, and Nelson A. Chandler, a native of New York, enlisted September 10th; Melchior Steinmann, a native of Switzerland, enlisted September 12th. All of the above but Adams (a Sioux of mixed blood) were young boys, and incapable of full military duty.
On the 12th, details of men commenced to build barracks on selected regimental grounds located in town, opposite to the church used as a Soldiers' Home. No order had been received to go into regular winter quarters, but the necessities of the case required this course. George Bell was detailed as orderly at regimental headquarters on the 21st. Sergeant Stiefel, and Foglesang and Schene rejoined on the 22nd.
The removal of the company to the log quarters on the east side of the above-named ground took place on the 25th. Company E was now shifted to the extreme left of the regiment, becoming the tenth from the right wing and the second in rank. Company I was on the immediate right of it.
An order from New Orleans requiring the regiment to report at St. Louis was received and read on the 3rd of November and preparations made at once to comply with the same. Detert, Scheibel, Kernen, and J. J. Mueller were relieved the same day and Schafer rejoined; also Burch and Praxl (the latter rejoined on the 2nd) were detached for provost duty in Helena. The two latter, with Churchill, sick, were all of the company left behind there.
On the 4th, the Twenty-Third Wisconsin having arrived to relieve it, the Sixth Minnesota embarked on the steamboat Thomas E. Tutt, truly glad to leave a place so associated with disease, suffering, and death. The number of the company now on the boat was 54, out of an aggregate of 80. While lying at Memphis, on the 6th, Bristle, wagoner Henricks, and Ferlein rejoined.
Arrived at St. Louis on the evening of the 11th, after a tedious voyage. Next morning the regiment disembarked and marched through the city. Six companies were quartered at Winter Street Barracks, E being among them. At this time the military post of St. Louis was under the enlightened command of Colonel James H. Baker of the Tenth Minnesota, whose regulations for the government of troops stationed there were liberal and just, and an admirable model for the imitation of officers having volunteer soldiers of the Republic under their control. The sojourn in this city would have been generally very pleasant had it not been for the incessant duty, which, consisting almost exclusively of prison guard, was severe, just half of the men's time being taken up by it. The weather, too, was very cold for outside posts of sentinels.
J. J. Mueller was detailed as orderly at company headquarters on the 12th, Kernen detached as cook in the regimental hospital on the 15th, and Steinmann detailed as company drummer on the 22nd. The absent members now began rapidly to return. M. Mueckenhausen rejoined on the 17th. Sergeant Leitner on the 21st, Burch, Praxl, Corporal Radke, and Kilian, Kraemer, and Temme on the 25th, Churchill on the 26th, M. Mueller on the 27th, and Krueger on the 30th. Eberdt was relieved on the 29th. Lieutenant Bell was dismissed from service by order of the Department Commander on the 29th. Knopf left on furlough December 9th, but sickness prevented him from returning at its expiration.
The companies in Winter Street Barracks moved into Schofield Barracks No. 2 on the 13th of December; E being quartered in the northern quadrangle. Corporal Gaheen was relieved on the 19th, and Sergeant Leitner detached as keeper at Gratiot Street Military Prison on the 20th. Metz rejoined on the 27th, and Holtzmer on the 29th. Lieutenant Bell, having been restored to command by order of the President of January 3rd, 1865, rejoined on the 10th. Kernen rejoined on the 11th. To fill vacancies occasioned by the death of Neierburg and reduction of Gabbert, Bast and Beckendorf were appointed seventh and eighth corporals on the 12th, and confirmed as such on the 17th.
Having been ordered to report at New Orleans, La., the regiment left St. Louis on the 29th of January, and traveled by rail to Cairo, where it was put on board the steamboat W. R. Arthur, which left the next evening. The boat then had on board over 1,000 souls in all. Reached New Orleans the 6th of February, and marched to quarters in Louisiana Cotton Press No. 1, used as a camp of distribution. Lieutenant Holl was detailed as assistant regimental quartermaster, and Corporal Gaheen again on color guard, on the 7th.
The northern soldiers found much to amuse and instruct them when they arrived at this southwestern satrapy, for such—from its isolated position, its semi-tropical products, its swarthy and varied population, strange tongues, manners, and customs, and from its form of government—the Military Division of West Mississippi might well be termed. They, however, soon discovered the difference between New Orleans and St. Louis. The former was under the strictest rule of a martinet of the regular army. The accidental absence of a pass, even in daytime, or the slightest divergence from the prescribed dress, whether occurring on or off duty, rendered enlisted men subject to ruthless fine or imprisonment, and the other offending articles to confiscation by the provost marshal.
No duty was called for till the 10th, when, for two days, fatigue parties were set to work on the military railroad on St. Joseph street. On the 13th details for miscellaneous guard duty were furnished. Corporal Hoscheid and John rejoined on the 12th. Musician Chandler was transferred to Company B on the 13th, there being more than the regular number of musicians in Company E. Wagoner Henricks was detailed in regimental quartermaster's depot on the 15th. On the 19th the regiment moved into the barracks formerly Terrill's Cotton Press, opposite the southeast corner of Annunciation Square, just vacated by the Seventh Vermont. Sergeant Rohde was detailed as sergeant of police on the 20th. Eberdt and Gropel were detached to guard stores on steamboats, under command of an ordnance officer, on the 25th. Stengelin, sick, was sent to the general hospital on the 26th.
Towards the end of the month the regiment received orders to repair to Chalmette, and to report to the Sixteenth Army Corps, to which it had been assigned, as soon as relieved by a certain colored regiment. On the 3rd of March, having been relieved, the regiment moved into the square immediately opposite, where, having a few days previously been supplied with shelter tents, a camp was established. J. J. Mueller was relieved on the 4th. The strength of the company was now as follows: Present, 66; absent, 11,—aggregate 77.
By this time it was authoritatively known that the Sixth Regiment belonged to the Second Brigade of the Second Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, Major General A. J. Smith commanding.
SERVICES IN ALABAMA; AND CONCLUSION—1865.
The regiment left New Orleans on the 6th of March and proceeded along the river six miles to the plain of Chalmette, where at a point a little below the old battlefield, and exactly opposite the present rebel earthworks, it embarked on the small ocean steamship Cromwell. Lieutenant Holl and wagoner Henricks did not go along with the company. This was a wretched voyage. The men were packed as closely as negroes on a slave-ship; the majority being unable to get more than sitting room, and no chance to lie at full length for sleep. In the afternoon of the 8th the troops were landed at Fort Gaines, Alabama, whence they marched to a camping ground on the south shore of the island (Dauphin) about two miles west of the fort.
Mahle was detached to serve on brigade provost guard by order issued on the 10th; Knopf and Stengelin rejoined on the 13th; and Scheibel was detached to serve in the Division Pioneer Company, by order issued on the 17th.
While at Dauphin Island the system of company cooking was abandoned, and that of distributing to each man his proportion of the rations, for disposal at will, adopted instead. Company cooks, consequently, were no longer required.
Broke camp on the 19th, and embarked at Fort Gaines on a gunboat (tin clad). Lay all night in Navy Cove near Fort Morgan. Next day the fleet crossed to Fish River and ascended it several miles to Dalney's Mill Landing, on the west side, where the force disembarked and went into camp, the Second Brigade being about a mile from the river on the south side of a small but rapid creek. While at this place breastworks were commenced to the west, but soon discontinued. Lieutenant Holl and wagoner Henricks rejoined on the 21st, the former having been relieved by the return of the regimental quartermaster.
On the 25th the forward march of the troops began, and eight miles were made. The next day the Second Brigade was in front and the Sixth Minnesota was detailed for skirmishing, Company E being employed to cover the left flank of the brigade while marching. The enemy's skirmishers hovered in front the whole time and an incessant fusillade was kept up. By noon the creek on which Cyrus Sibley's house and mills were was reached and crossed, and at about a mile beyond the company was halted, and remained, with some other companies, on picket there the whole night. The enemy's pickets and ours were often in view of each other and exchanged many shots. Next morning, the 27th, the rest of the regiment moved up and camped there; and breastworks were thrown up and a battery stationed on the right flank. On the 28th the regiment fell back; to the south side of the creek, where the camp of the Second Division was entrenched, immediately opposite Sibley's house.
Here there was very little to do or see, but time enough to listen to the almost continuous cannonading at the Spanish Fort, which however soon ceased to be an object of remark except when, occasionally, the rush of the enormous shells from the rebel gunboats drew every one's attention. A reconnoissance on the Blakely road, to a point three miles out, was made on the 2nd of April by the brigade. Near the place of return two torpedoes were exploded by the feet of the horses at the head of the column. On the same day Klinghammer, who had been arrested on Dauphin Island, for very insubordinate conduct, and subsequently tried by court-martial, found guilty, and sentenced to one year's hard labor at a military prison, was turned over to the provost marshal, and the company saw him no more.
On the 3rd the division broke camp and moved, by the way of Origen Sibley's mills, to the front, near Blakely, on the Tensas River, about twelve miles from Mobile, taking position on the left of the Thirteenth Corps, which had appeared before the enemy's defenses there a few days previously.
About a mile and a half to the eastward of the rebel works immediately defending the town are some private graves among the pine trees, apparently the commencement of a cemetery, but without fencing or other general improvements. The tomb of one of General Marion's men, Godbold, is there; and, immediately to the north of it a couple of rods, a local family, the Wilkinsons, have a little plot of land, about fifteen paces square, surrounded by a low brick wall.
Here, shortly before sunset on the 3rd of April, the brigade encamped, the Sixth Minnesota being a couple of hundred paces distant from the brick graveyard, to the east and southeast of it. The troops were told to pitch no tents, light no fires, but lie on their arms, keep as quiet as possible, and await further orders. It was rumored that the enemy's works were to be stormed that night, but we were not disturbed. The musicians, however, were called out and held subject to the surgeon's orders. Next day, the 4th, tents were pitched and the usual camp arrangements recommenced, except that all calls were discontinued lest the sound of the bugles and drums should reach the enemy's ears and guide them in shelling our camp.
While here a large detail was furnished every day by the regiment for duty in the trenches and on the skirmish line. Before sunrise each morning the soldiers filed off through the gloomy ravines to their posts in the trenches and pits of the advance, some half a mile away, there to lie and exchange shots with the enemy, and subject to their shells, till relieved. Fortunately during the week spent in this camp not a man of the company was injured, and it is understood that but two casualties (slight wounds) occurred in the regiment the whole time the siege of Blakely lasted. On two or three occasions shells reached the brigade camp, one of which cut off a thick pine near to Godbold's grave, but did not injure either living or dead. These shots were provoked by men climbing the tall pine trees to get sight of the enemy's works. The bombardment of the Spanish Fort on the evening of the 8th was very plainly heard. It lasted from 5:30 o'clock to 7, and the reports averaged about thirty a minute, by count.
In the afternoon of the next day tents were struck and the regiment left camp, knapsacks packed, at 4 o'clock, and moved silently through the woods to the line of trenches used by the reserve of the picket guard, and there, knapsacks being unslung and with other impediments piled together, the men were stationed to await orders. Immediately to the right of the Sixth was a battery and beyond that another regiment, also posted in reserve; and on the left there was nothing. From this position to the enemy's redoubts it was about half a mile in a direct course westward, and from the advanced skirmish line to the same works some 400 yards. About 5:15 p.m. the various batteries of the Union forces opened fire upon the enemy's lines, but their guns did not reply for about ten minutes, when the cannonading became brisk on both sides, lasting until 25 minutes to 6; the battery near the regiment sharing in it. Now it ceased suddenly on our side, and in its place were heard the ringing cheers of the soldiers as they rose, in full view of the reserves, from their trenches in the front and rushed towards the Confederate fortifications. By 6 o'clock the noise of the cannon had ceased and a white flag was visible, which told of the enemy's surrender; and shortly the Stars and Stripes superseded it. Thus, on the evening of the 9th of April, 1865, took place the battle of Blakely, which, like that of New Orleans in 1815, was fought after the necessity for it had passed away.
The regiment returned to the original camp for the night. Next morning if crossed the battle grounds and encamped immediately within the former hostile earthworks, about a quarter of a mile from the village, but remained there only two days, returning on the 12th to the neighborhood of the cemetery. Here Ferlein, unable to march, was left behind.
Without the men having any idea as to where they were going, the line of march was taken up on the morning of the 13th of April, but a few hours proved that it was neither to Mobile nor to Pensacola, but to the north, showing that the Sixteenth Corps was on one of its characteristic marches again. The strength of the company was now: Present, 63; aggregate, 76. For over sixty miles the route lay through pine forests, with very few clearings; and the villages then successively passed were Burnt Corn, Midway, Activity, Greenville, and Sandy Ridge. No enemy was seen, but, on the contrary, when the settled country was reached, every house displayed a white flag or cloth, generally with the words "The Union Forever" on it. On the 19th, a few miles south of Midway, the official news of the surrender of Lee's army overtook the expedition; and at camp on the 24th the rumor of Mr. Lincoln's death, not at first believed, met it. For thirteen days, to the 25th, the troops marched each day, arriving then at a stream five miles south of Montgomery, having traveled a distance of 170 miles, from the cemetery near Blakely. The 26th was spent in camp, to rest and wash. On the 27th the troops moved through the city,—the cradle of the rebel government,—and encamped beyond it. The camp of the brigade was just beyond a swamp on the river road, about two miles northeastward of the city. From the 26th to the 30th, as the transports had not arrived, the soldiers were supplied by foraging parties with cornmeal, supplies of fresh beef, and a little bacon. F. Henricks and Knopf, sick, were sent to the hospital in the city, May 2nd. Ferlein rejoined on the 8th.
On the 18th of May the regimental camp was moved about a mile further from the river, nearly to the Wetumka road, to get higher ground and purer water. Sergeant Leitner rejoined on the 22nd. Lieutenant Holl left on sick furlough on the 25th. Eberdt and Gropel rejoined on the 26th, the former being detailed in the band on the 29th. On the 31st Sergeant Steifel was honorably discharged for disability contracted while in the service. The same day a review of the Second Division took place. Private Ferlein was honorably discharged on the 1st of June, his term of service having expired. On the same day Mahle and Scheibel rejoined, and Huth was sent to the hospital. On the 6th soft bread was issued for the first time in three months. Jakobi was sent to the hospital in town on the 13th. Sergeant Huth (in hospital) and privates Gantner and Parks were honorably discharged on the 15th, their terms of service having expired. On the 25th Krueger was sent to the division hospital in town. The same day Schermann died of disease. He was buried near the second mile-post on the Wetumka road. On the 30th Corporals Sauer and Joseph Smith were promoted fourth and fifth sergeants, respectively, and J. Mueller and Blesius seventh and eighth corporals,—to take effect on the 16th of June. Knopf rejoined July 1st. Private Jakobi was honorably discharged on the 7th for disability contracted while in the service; and on the same day the regiment acted as guard at a military execution. Private Schene died of disease on the 8th, and was buried in the city cemetery. Musician Seidel was honorably discharged on the 9th, his term of service having expired. He was the last man discharged previous to the general mustering out. On the 13th the men whose terms of service did not expire before the 1st of October were transferred to and ordered to join the Fifth Regiment; those from Company E being as follows: Bryan, Foglesang, Frank, Hildebrandt, Holtzmer, Iwan, Knopf, Lieber, and Troska. While at Montgomery, by change of captains in Company D, Company E became the first in rank, its appropriate position in regimental line being the first on the right flank, with Company I on the left.
After much weary waiting the regiment at last received orders to proceed to Vicksburg, to be mustered out, and, joyfully striking tents for the last time, on the 16th embarked on the steamer Coquette for Selma, which place was reached next morning. Here, instead of proceeding at once, the regiment remained three days by reason of change of opinions in regard to the recruits just transferred. The order transferring them was revoked, and they were returned to their companies to be mustered out with the main body. The strength of Company E was now as follows: Present, 60; absent, 6,—aggregate, 62.
On the 20th, left Selma by railroad. Reached Demopolis in the afternoon, and descended the river there, on a steamboat, four miles to the continuation of the railroad on the west bank, which place was known as McDowell's Landing. Here camped for the night. The next day arrived at Meridian, Mississippi, and lay there over night, and on the day after, the 22nd, arrived at Pearl River opposite Jackson. Owing to the destruction of the bridge over this stream, and that of the Big Black, there was a gap of over thirty miles in the railroad communication, which had to be traversed the best way possible. Most of the men walked, having hired teams for their things. By the 25th nearly all of the regiment had rendezvoused on the west side of the Big Black River, near the railroad. The next day took cars for Vicksburg.
The regiment was now, it seems, ordered to report at St. Louis, and accordingly, on the evening of the 26th, embarked at Vicksburg on the steamboat Missouri for that place. Having arrived at St. Louis on the 31st, it received orders to proceed to Fort Snelling, and on the 1st of August started on the steamboat Brilliant for St. Paul. Private W. Smith was found dead in his place on the deck on the morning of August 3rd, and his body was left at Burlington, Iowa, for interment. On the 7th arrived at St. Paul, where a most cordial reception by the citizens was experienced, and after being entertained at the capitol, re-embarked and went to Fort Snelling. Here Lieutenant Holl, and F. Henricks, Krueger, Schauer, Simon, and some others who had remained at Jackson, rejoined.
The company was mustered out, with the rest of the regiment, on the 19th of August, at the fort. Of the original members there were now discharged 47, who had served their full three years. Their names were as follows, viz.: Bast, Beckendorf, J. B. Bell, Besecke, Blesius, Blessner, Bristle, Burch, Detert, Eberdt, Gaheen, Goldner, Gropel, Hahn, F. Henricks, H. Henricks, A. J. Hill, Holl; Hoscheid, John, Kernen, Kilian, Kraemer, Krueger, Leitner; Mahle; Martin, Metz, M. Mueckenhausen, J. J. Mueller, M. Mueller, G. Paulson, Praxl, Radke, Reimers, Rohde, Sauer, Schafer, Scheer, Scheibel, Schoenemann, Siebert, Simon, J. Smith, Sproesser, Stengelin, and Temme, The recruits discharged numbered 12, and were: G. Bell, Bryan, Churchill, Foglesang, Frank, Hildebrandt, Holtzmer, Iwan, Knopf, Lieber, Steinmann, and Troska.
Although the foregoing pages are but a history of one company of the Sixth Regiment, yet in general the account of its movements applies generally to all.
The lot of this regiment, as an organization, was somewhat peculiar, and, in respect to military glory, unfortunate. It boasts of no hard won victories, laments no disheartening defeats, but it did faithfully its assigned duty; and, in so doing, deserved well of the Republic.
TABLES AND STATISTICS.
COMPOSITION OF ORIGINAL COMPANY.
Nationality: 82 men were of German blood, 4 born in North America; 4 of American (U.S.); 4 of Scandinavian; 2 of French; 1 of Magyar; and 1 of British.
Religions: Proportion of Lutheran and Methodist, 25 per cent.; Roman Catholic, 19 per cent.; Rationalistic, 17 per cent.; and 39 per cent. were unclassified.
Occupations: Proportion of farmers, 30 per cent.; mechanics, 54 per cent.; professional men, 8 per cent.; and miscellaneous and unknown, 8 per cent.
STATISTICS OF DISEASE.
Previous to the summer of 1864 the health of the regiment had always been very good. At the time of the departure for the South the proportion of sick in the whole company was under 5 per cent., the cases being mostly of a trivial nature. The following table, compiled from the monthly returns, will show how rapidly the ratio increased during the sojourn at Helena:
The "daily" and "extra" duty men would swell the last column somewhat if their health had been generally reported, but it is not customary to enter their names in the "sick" book. Every man of the company was sick at one time or another while in the South.
The poor economy of sending the regiment to Helena immediately from a northern climate at the commencement of the summer, and keeping it there so long, is plainly seen in the following calculation (and other companies showed a similar state of things to Company E): If we take the sum of the "aggregates" of the morning reports during each month the product is the maximum number of days' service the government can expect for that period, but which, however, it really never gets. By similarly adding together the columns of "sick" we have a figure representing loss of service, and which should be within reasonable limits. While in Minnesota this loss never amounted to 20 per cent. of the whole service due, and generally fluctuated between 8 and 17. In a space of time equal to and immediately preceding the time spent at Helena,—nineteen weeks,—it was as low as 3 per cent.; while there it was 43; and for the same length of time immediately after leaving Helena, it was 23. In March, 1865, it was 13; in April, 13; in May, 18; and in June, 27. As no morning reports were made after the middle of July, the figures for the remainder of the term of service cannot be obtained, but undoubtedly they would result in at least 30 per cent.
The number of deaths occurring while in Helena, and traceable to disease contracted while at that point and Montgomery, is 13, equal to 15 per cent., or nearly one-sixth of the whole company.
Resigned, 1; transferred, 13; discharged previous to expiration of service, 16; died, 14; deserted, 2; missing, 1; mustered out at expiration of service in June and July, 1865, 5; mustered out in corpore August 19th, 1865, 59; in military prison and unknown, 2. Total number of members, 113.
OCCUPATION OF TIME.
En route, on campaigns and expeditions, 177 days. En route, changing stations, 68 days. Stationary, at posts and barracks, 439 days. Stationary in camp, 412 days. Total, or entire term of service, 3 years.
DISTANCES TRAVELED, APPROXIMATELY.
On foot, 2,800 miles; in wagons, 100 miles; by steamboat, 4,235 miles; by railroad, 865 miles. Total, 8,000 miles.
LIMITS AND EXTENT OF COUNTRY TRAVERSED.
Latitude: From 47° 32′, at Lake Jessie, D. T., approximate position, to 27°, at the mouth of the Mississippi; being 20° 32′ difference, equal to 1,416 statute miles, measured on a meridian line.
Longitude: From 86° 25′, at Montgomery, Ala., to 100° 35′, at the mouth of Apple River, D. T., approximate position; being 14° 10′ difference, equal to 757 statute miles on the line of middle latitude.
Greatest included right line: From Lake Jessie, D. T., approximate position, to the mouth of the Mississippi; course S. 21° E., distance 1,372 miles.
An air line drawn from Montgomery, Alabama, the last station, to St. Paul, Minnesota, would be 945 miles in length, course N.N.W. The water route to the latter place, via Mississippi Sound and New Orleans, is about 2,350 miles; while that actually traveled, via Vicksburg, is about 1,585 miles.
LIEUT. COL. MARSHALL'S RAID INTO DAKOTA—1862.3
CAPT. CHARLES J. STEES.
After the memorable release of the captives at Camp Release, the scouts were very diligent in searching out and locating the numerous small bands of hostile Indians who were scattered through the country to the north and west of the camp. Upon learning that there were several lodges of Indians to the westward in the vicinity of Wild Goose Nest Lake, General Sibley, under date of October 13th, 1862, directed Lieutenant Colonel Marshall of the Seventh Regiment to take command of an expedition detailed to capture any bands to be found along the upper Lac qui Parle valley, and, if necessary, to go as far as the western side of the Coteaus, about 45 miles distant.
October 13th (1862). Cold, windy day. Company G was ordered to be ready to move at 12 o'clock, midnight, with six days' rations. The men thought they were going below with the prisoners, but were disappointed on learning that we were off on an Indian hunt. The expedition under Lieutenant Colonel Marshall consisted of Company G, of the Sixth Regiment, under command of Captain Valentine; 100 men of the Third Regiment—50 mounted—under Lieutenant Swan; Company B, Seventh Regiment, Captain Curtis; a mountain howitzer with 8 men under Sergeant O'Shea; Major Joseph R. Brown and 4 scouts (Bell, Quinn, and 2 Indians). Left Camp Release at 10 p.m. for the Lac qui Parle valley. It was very cold traveling, so much so that the water froze in our canteens.
October 14th. We made a very rapid march during the night, and reached the Lac qui Parle River before daybreak, made a bridge, using the wagons for the purpose, and all crossed over. Soon after passed a deserted bark village. The scouts reported that there were Indians ahead with eight ox teams, but there was nothing to be seen but the sky and prairie. The Indians, discovering that they were pursued, now fired the prairie in front of us with the evident intention of retarding our movements and to prevent our horses from having forage. The wind being high, it carried the burnt dirt and ashes along in clouds, flying into our eyes, and they became very painful and bloodshot. Was appointed officer of the guard for the night, and, by using three reliefs of 15 men each, dug six rifle-pits for the protection of the camp.
October 15th. Aroused the camp at 4 o'clock, struck the tents, and was on the march by 6 a.m. Following up the Lac qui Parle, at 10 o'clock we captured four prisoners,—an Indian warrior, a half-breed boy, and two squaws. The half-breed was a son of Roubillard, a Frenchman who lived back of us in St. Paul, in 1851. I used to play with him. He speaks French, English, and Sioux, and gave us much information about what we were after. A short distance beyond we crossed the state line into Dakota Territory. William Wallace, E. J. Van Slyke, and I visited one of the line posts, which was marked, "26 miles from Big Stone Lake" (located about 8 miles north of Gary, South Dakota); and the other three sides were marked "Minnesota," "Dakota," and "1859." Wallace was on the survey and helped plant the post. In order to celebrate the event, each of us, with one foot in Dakota and the other in Minnesota, shook hands together. We were now in sight of Re Wakan or Spirits Hill (so named by the Dakotas). Although distant, the appearance of the Coteau des Prairies, as they loom up like a dark wall against the clear western sky, is very beautiful. Halted in a hollow for a lunch. The scouts returned and reported 19 Indian lodges ahead, which made the men feel joyful at the prospect of a fight. Marched three miles further and camped for the night in a beautiful dell at the headwaters of the Lac qui Parle. One wagon and six Indians were brought in. Of those captured up to this time, the young men were held as prisoners, and the squaws and children were given into the custody of the old men and ordered to report at Camp Release, and they faithfully followed the instructions.
October 16th. During the night wolves were howling in the vicinity of the camp. Left camp before daylight and commenced ascending the Coteau des Prairies, the highest table-land in this section of the United States, and full of lakes. A chain of twenty or more lakes could be seen from the highest point, which form the headwaters of the Lac qui Parle, Yellow Medicine, and Whetstone Rivers, on one side, and furnish many tributary streams to the Big Sioux on the west side,—many miles of land and bluffs, prairies, and lakes seeming as not ten miles distant. At various points we passed through fields of buffalo bones. Arrived at "Two Lakes" (Mde-nonpana), where the Indians camped last night and left a sign indicating that they had moved to the westward two days previously. In order to overtake them, Colonel Marshall took the mounted men, howitzer, and the best teams, and pushed ahead, leaving the infantry and baggage train, under command of Captain Valentine, to follow on his trail and camp at the next creek for the night, with instructions to continue the forward movement if he did not return. Instead of following instructions, Captain Valentine crossed the creek, and, ascending the next hill, perceived what appeared to be a beautiful lake a few miles distant; he continued the march, intending to camp there; so we marched and marched, but no lake appeared; the men, worn and fatigued, lagged behind, some straggling back for five miles, and curses, loud and deep, were heard on every hand,—the lake turned out to be a mirage, a sight not uncommon in this region. Failing to arrive at the lake, we finally camped in the prairie grass, without wood or water; and, the rations being short, we went to sleep, supperless, after marching until 10 o'clock at night.
October 17th. The morning found us camped on the top of the Coteaus with no sign of Colonel Marshall and his men. Struck tents before daylight and were on the march without breakfast. At about two miles from the last camp we arrived at the Big Sioux River (here very narrow, with marshy banks), and halted for breakfast; but there was no feed for the horses. The men of the Third Regiment dealt out their last crackers, and Company G had one ration of flour, sugar, and coffee. Flour mixed with water and fried in fat was indeed and in truth a great luxury, of which even a white plumed knight might well be proud,—at this stage of the game. The expedition was now four days' march from Camp Release, and the provisions were all gone. The scouts returned and reported that they had seen "nothing of Marshall or any other man." We again resumed the march, and at sundown arrived at Hawk's Nest Lake. Here we met Quinn (the scout), and some mounted men, who brought the cheering news of the capture of 150 Indians, including 34 warriors.
On leaving the main body of the expedition, Colonel Marshall had moved forward as rapidly as possible, and soon after midnight on the 17th overtook and surrounded the Indians, who, not anticipating such an event, were camped down and peacefully enjoying a good night's rest. The baying of their dogs was the first intimation that they had of the presence of the troops. The scouts informed them that they would not be harmed, and demanded their immediate surrender, which was complied with. A few of the younger men attempted to get away, but were overtaken and all made prisoners. By this capture much stolen property, in the way of goods, oxen, horses, and wagons, was recovered. Only one white child was found among them. The prisoners (warriors) were brought in under guard, their weapons having been taken from them, and they were securely tied. Among them was one chief, Wa-ka-mo-no (Wa-kan-mane), Spirit Walker, or Walking Spirit. At 10 p.m. William Quinn and two mounted men were dispatched to Camp Release to obtain a reinforcement to meet the expedition with provisions and forage.
In honor of the successful termination of the pursuit and capture of the Indians, Colonel Marshall changed the name of Hawk's Nest Lake4 to Captive Lake. The lake is very long, winding, and deep, and was very high, trees standing in the water 12 feet from the shore. Very singularly it rises and falls without any apparent assistance from the rains or snows, as if it had a connection with some underground system of streams.
October 18th. According to the estimates of the scouts and others we were about 120 miles from Camp Release and 25 miles from James River, or half way between the Big Sioux and the James. Left Captive Lake bright and early, and halted on the Big Sioux for dinner, at the place where we breakfasted (?) the day previous. Took coffee with the Third Regiment. At the request of Major Brown, we took his sister-in-law (a squaw by the name of Sinte, the wife of Captain James Gorman of the Renville Rangers) into our wagon. In order to have a little fun as a side diversion, a race with our mules was commenced, the tailor George driving. His position was lubricous as he drove over the rough ground, shaking the squaw and the old man well. Having gotten some distance ahead, we halted at a creek for target practice; and some good shots were made.
Homeward bound, as viewed from a high ridge, the appearance of our train was romantic and picturesque. The Indian warriors with their mounted guard were in the advance, and then the infantry with their arms and bayonets shining brightly. The mounted men with their Sharps rifles, contrasting with the Springfields carried by Company G; then comes the "little barker" (the mountain howitzer on wheels in a wagon), the gunners riding alongside; then our teams laden with camp equipage, tents, kettles, etc., the whole cavalcade ending with the Indian camp following in true Indian style. Ponies loaded almost to the ground: cows, oxen and wagons the same; and squaws loaded as if their backs would break. A pretty squaw, with a snow-white blanket around her, is perched high on top of a big load on a little pony; then there are other ponies with papooses on their backs, followed by any quantity of dogs. A simple strap is thrown across the back of a pony, ox, or cow, supporting the ends of two poles, while the other ends drag on the ground; midway between the ends are perched the teepee skin, camp traps, etc., and on top of the whole are placed the children, who are riding as gaily as if they were on a honeymoon; a string of bells around the pony's neck, with the bellowing of the cattle, the bright blue sky above, the surrounding hills (some black with burnt grass, others green and waving), with the beautiful lakes contrasted,—combined to make it one of the strangest, wildest, and most beautiful and romantic pictures I ever witnessed. Camped at sundown on a creek between two high hills, where a cow was shot,—a promise of fresh beef for to-morrow.
Sunday, October 19th. It was cold sleeping last night; water frozen in canteen; but the day was ushered in with the sun shining bright. Breaking camp in the valley was a beautiful sight, as viewed from the top of the adjoining hill,—fires burning, tents taken down, mounted men starting off at a brisk trot. Infantry looked lively and cheerful at the prospect of soon greeting their comrades at Camp Release, with their good success, prisoners, spoils, etc., they march straight up the hill, while the teams and "Moccasin Train" wind around the sides to make the ascent more easy. Such a scene as here witnessed carries one back to the days when he read fancy sketches of such expeditions in novels. With a party of friends we were now in advance of the train, and during the day shot geese, brant, ducks and snipes. It was indeed a grand sight to see thousands of white brant flying between us and the burned and blackened hills. Arrived at our old camp "Hollow" at the head of the Lac qui Parle at 3 p.m.,—one hour in advance of the train,—and took advantage of the occasion to cook and feast on some of our game. The train arrived, having in charge more prisoners, who had been out hunting, and, on returning and finding their band all gone, followed our trail and gave themselves up.
October 20th. More Indians joined us last night; they attempted to slip in past the guard, but were caught. Struck tents at daylight and resumed the march, crossing the line into Minnesota at 10 a.m. Met the relief train under Quinn at 11 a.m. After leaving Captive Lake, and at a point some 18 miles distant, William Quinn's horse gave out, and was abandoned. He walked all the rest of the way to Camp Release beside of the other horses, reaching there at 11 o'clock Saturday night (making good time). He took a short nap, started on the return trip Sunday morning, and met the train as above stated. He brought the news of the capture of 23 more lodges (67 Indians) near the lower Lac qui Parle by Captain Merriman and a detachment of the Sixth Regiment, who took them to Camp Release. At 12 o'clock, noon, we arrived at the camping place first used on our outward trip. Took dinner with the artillery. The prairie took fire from Company G's cook-fire, making us skedaddle at a double-quick. The flames spread with fearful rapidity, causing consternation and alarm, and inducing the moccasin train to move at a lively gait. There was a feeling of real joy when all had reached burned ground. Quinn now led us by a new route. The prairie was on fire all around us, and at one point we passed between two fires. The camp for the night was established on a beautiful spot near the bank of the Lac qui Parle River. Was appointed officer of the guard.
During the night there were indications of the prisoners trying to escape. C. J. Sudheimer and Peter Molitor were placed as sentinels on the top of the edge of the plateau, near the camp. The wind was blowing at a 30 or 35 mile gait, so they finally took post on the more sheltered slope near the top. About 11 p.m. an Indian with a halter in his hand appeared and crossed the line some 50 feet distant, when he was halted by Sudheimer, who, finding that he was a prisoner trying to make his escape, promptly arrested him. I immediately doubled the guard and had all the prisoners (warriors) searched, which resulted in the finding of a pocket-knife, which was duly confiscated. The job of searching them was very disagreeable. Ugh! what filth. This task being completed, they were securely tied, placed in a Sibley tent, and a double guard stationed over them. Visited the Indian camp with George Brown to see the sights. Found them in their teepees spread out around the fire, which was located in the center.
October 21st. Broke camp before daybreak, and was on the march before sunrise. The day proved to be a horrible one, the wind blowing a perfect hurricane; the black dust of the burnt prairie filling and blinding our eyes, the lashes on which the dust accumulated creating a cutting, grinding pain, causing us to suffer much pain. Being near our journey's end, we moved forward as fast as it was possible under the circumstances, and arrived at Camp Release at 4 p.m., where we joined our comrades, who were very glad to see us. But our arrival did not improve matters so far as we were concerned, for the camp was a perfect wreck,—tents ripped up and chimneys blown down. There was not much news at the camp, the most important event during our absence having been the arrival of the sutler, on which occasion nearly all hands got tight, with the result that one colonel, six captains, and any quantity of lieutenants were put under arrest.
With all our forced marches, cold nights, windy days, and fasting, the trip was a most successful one; for, besides those who voluntarily surrendered themselves, we captured 39 men and 100 women and children, not to mention the horses, cattle, wagons, and plunder, which were also brought in.
1 This young man's real name was Paul Bierstach, the other having been assumed to enable him to get sworn in without his parents' consent.
2 This camp was located on the W. ½ of the N. W. ¼ of section 28, and the E. ½ of the N.E. ¼ of section 29, township 147 north, of range 60 west, on the northeast side of what is now known as Lake Sibley, and about 11 miles in a direct line to the northwest of Cooperstown, Griggs County, North Dakota.—T. H. L.
3 From the journal of Charles J. Stees, late captain of Company G, Sixth Regiment, Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, and formerly major of the Fourth Regiment, Third Brigade, First Division, Pennsylvania Infantry.
4 This lake is probably the most eastern one of the two lakes now known as Twin Lakes, situated in township 118 north, of range 54 west, in Coddington county, South Dakota, as no other lake in this region corresponds with the description. Its Dakota name is Chan-nonpa (Two Wood Lake), and that of the western one is Tizaptona (Five Lodge Lake). "Wild Goose Nest" (Magaiticage) and "Hawk's Nest" (Hecaoti) Lakes are "on the Minnesota Coteaus," and not over thirty miles west of the state line.—T. H. L.