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Discussions explore many causes of 1862 war, impact of treaties

Authors provide points, counter-points on cause of war

August 24, 2012
By Fritz Busch - Staff Writer (fbusch@nujournal.com) , The Journal

NEW ULM - Three authors and a museum program vice president agreed and disagreed on issues related to U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 at a round table discussion Thursday at Turner Hall.

Regarding the cause of the war, Stephen Osman, Minnesota Military Museum Program Vice President at Camp Ripley, said change came too fast for many Dakota.

Curtis Dahlin said he wasn't sure there was a major cause of the war, but many issues that came together at the same time.

"In all wars, there are a constellation of reasons, but there are events that spark it like the killing of settlers at Acton, non-payment of annuities and financial issues with agents and traders," said Don Heinrich Tolzmann, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based author with roots tracing back to Flora Township, Renville County.

Tolzmann added that went fur trader Andrew Myrick said "'let them (starving Dakota) eat grass or their own dung,' other traders stopped extending credit to the Dakota, it was like throwing a lit-match in a gas-filled room. The last straw in a cycle of tensions."

Osman blamed U.S. government corruption.

Fact Box

Schedule of Events

FRIDAY, AUGUST 24

Leavenworth Rescue Tour 8:30-11:30 a.m. Tours start at the BCHS. Tickets are required, $15 from the BCHS. Bus loads at 8:15am.

Symposium - 9 a.m.-3 p.m., providing a broad, academic perspective on various aspects of the U.S.-Dakota War. Dr. Mary Lethert Wingerd-"North Country: The Making of Minnesota", Dr. Elden Lawrence-"The Peace Seekers", Dr. Zabelle Stodola- "Mary Schwandt and Maggie Brass (Snana): A Minnesota Pocahontas Story?, Walt Bachman-"Differing Portrayals of the Dakota War Over Time: Political Correctness in 1900 and 2012" & Dr. Julie Humann Anderson-"Reconciling Memory: Landscapes, Commemorations and Enduring Conflicts of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862".

All at Turner Halle FREE ADMISSION.

Milford Historical Area Tour 1-3 p.m., Tours start at the BCHS. Tickets are required, $15 from the BCHS. Bus loads at 12:45 p.m.

Downtown Battlefield Walking Tour 1-2 p.m. Tours begin every 15 minutes between 1-2 p.m. Tours are 1 hour long. $3 per person. Purchase at BCHS.

The Wanda Gag House 1-4 p.m. Exhibit featuring 10 scenes of the U.S.-Dakota War on canvas from a Panorama attributed to Anton Gag, Alexander Schwendinger, and Chris Heller. 226 N. Washington Street

"Dogs In the Hot Moon & Behind the Barricades" Play 2-4 pm New Ulm DAC Auditorium. Tickets available at the door.

Milford Monument Dedication 4-5 pm. Sponsored by the Junior Pioneers. 5.5 miles West of New Ulm on Hwy 29. FREE ADMISSION.

BCHS "Never Shall I Forget" Exhibit Open House 5-8 pm. Brown County Historical Society FREE ADMISSION

"Dogs In the Hot Moon & Behind the Barricades" Play 7-9 pm New Ulm DAC Auditorium. Tickets available at the door.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 25

Leavenworth Rescue Tour 8-11 a.m. Tours start at the BCHS. Tickets are required, $15 from the BCHS. Bus loads at 7:45 a.m.

Hanska Historical Area Tour 10-1 pm Tours start at the BCHS. Tickets are required, $15 from the BCHS. Bus loads at 9:45.

Mail Delivery from Ft. Ridgely by Steve Palmer- 10 am - BCHS

BCHS Postage Cancellation 10 am-2pm, BCHS. Envelopes, postcards for purchase.

BCHS Author Book Signing-10-2 pm, Curtis Dahlin, Corinne Marz, Don H. Tolzmann, John Christgau, Gary Wiltscheck, Jack Koblas, Mark Diedrich, Mary Boheman, John LaBatte, Jeff Fischer. BCHS

Milford Historical Area Tour 11:30-1:30, Tours start at the BCHS. Tickets are required, $15 from the BCHS. Bus loads at 11:15 a.m.

Katie Gropper Walking Tour 1-2 pm. Tours begin every 15 minutes between 1-2. Tours are 1 hour long. $3 per person. BCHS This is the same tour as the Downtown Battlefield Tour, however geared more towards children.

The Wanda Gag House 1-4 p.m. Exhibit featuring 10 scenes of the U.S.-Dakota War on canvas from a Panorama attributed to Anton Gag, Alexander Schwendinger, and Chris Heller. 226 N. Washington Street

Flandrau's Charge Marker Dedication 2-2:30 pm. Location: 300 South German Street

Defender's Monument Dedication 5:30-6 pm. State & Center Street.

Jr. Pioneers 150th Commemoration Banquet 6 pm. Sponsored by the Junior Pioneers. Turner Hall. TICKETS REQUIRED.

"Everyone that could was trying to get money that was supposed to go to the Dakota, the largest and most war-like tribe in the country," Osman said. "What happened in the first 48 hours of the conflict was unusual in that so few warriors could kill so many people so fast. I think it must have been pre-planned."

Tolzmann said that although New Ulm defenders were burning buildings during the second attack and they retreated to Mankato for a time, they still managed to stop the Dakota from advancing further east.

"It was a major turning point in the war," Tolzmann added.

The panel agreed Henry H. Sibley was the right man to lead soldiers in pushing the Dakota out of Minnesota after they gained the early upper hand.

"Sibley was afraid of walking into a Dakota ambush, but he was no General Custer," Dahlin said. "Dakota leaders were not dictators by any means."

Osman said Chief Little Crow preferred a night attack, but was over-ruled at Wood Lake. a pivotal battle the Dakota lost and sent them retreating. The Dakota ambushed Sibley's soldiers who were stretched out like a train during a daylight attack.

Corinne Marz said Fort Snelling was an internment, not a concentration camp that was used to house Dakota after the war.

"The Dakota were targets, but it wasn't Auschwitz," she added. "Although a Fort Snelling exhibit labeled it a concentration camp. I don't think it was. There was a measles outbreak but the Dakota got the same food soldiers did."

Panelists agreed the Dakota were forced out of Minnesota but it wasn't done with genocide.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com

 
 

 

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