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Viewing the U.S.-Dakota War through pictures

Wiltscheck: Images aid understanding

August 16, 2012
By Josh Moniz - Staff Writer , The Journal

NEW ULM Examining the significance of local events of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 in a national context through photographs was the focus Wednesday of the presentation by Gary Wiltscheck for the "Lunch and a Bite of History" series.

Wiltscheck said he decided to present the well-known information of the conflict through photographs because images help people truly understand the scope and impact of the events. He also wanted to show images and documents that were less often seen beyond the iconic photographs.

Wiltscheck also emphasized less commonly reported portions of the conflict, such as the efforts of non-local residents trapped in New Ulm. One example was Sam McAuliffe, a military veteran who was visiting a friend when the Indian attacks occurred. McAuliffe was posted as a sharpshooter on the top of the Dacotah Hotel.

"New Ulmers initially thought of them [the non-locals] as burdens, because they took up food and space. But, I think they ultimately proved their usefulness by all the work they did," said Wiltscheck.

He also focused on his extensive knowledge of the Leavenworth Rescue Party. He pointed out the fact that the party split up on the way back to New Ulm, but both groups arrived during the Dakota siege at different times. He said that despite their different paths, they ultimately met the same fate while attempting to enter New Ulm.

Wiltscheck emphasized the importance of the contributions of less prominent individuals and the part they played in U.S.-Dakota War history.

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at



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