Marz presents different view of U.S.-Dakota War

Describes deaths of settlers in the war

Connie Marz

NEW ULM — A Dr. Martin Luther College graduate, author and retired 3M research analyst presented a number of unique aspects of the U.S.-Dakota War at the Brown County Historical Society Annex Friday.

Corinne Marz described the deaths of Clara Wilson at the beginning of the war, and Susan White and Otis White who died late in the battle at the hands of the Dakota.

Wilson, 15, was killed by four young Dakota men in Acton Township, near Grove City, at the site often cited as the moment the U.S.-Dakota War started, on Aug. 17, 1862. Marz said Wilson was one of the first of about 650 whites killed in the war. Wilson’s grave can be found at Ness Lake Lutheran Church near Acton.

“We want to remember what people experienced,” Marz said. She said White was an orphan when four Dakota men shot and killed several settlers after challenging them to a shooting contest on Aug. 17, 1862.

Otis White, 12, and Susan White, 14, were killed after their parents died at the hands of the Dakota near Brownton on Sept. 22, 1862.

A photo that can be found on the third floor of the Brown County Museum of History, New Ulm includes from left, New Ulm defenders Charles E. Flandrau and Jacob Nix. The photo, believed to have been taken shortly after 1900, was part of Corinne Marz’ presentation at the Brown County Historical Society Annex Friday.

Mass Execution

Marz talked about the execution of 38 Dakota Indians in Mankato after the war. While it is the largest mass government execution in U.S. history, it is not the only mass execution conducted on what is now U.S. soil.

A couple months prior to the Army execution of the 38 Sioux Indians at Mankato, 40 suspected Unionists died over a week’s time in the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas during the American Civil War, in what has been described as the largest act of mob violence in U.S. history. The executed had been convicted by a “citizens court,” and hung by lynch mobs. Two more suspects were shot trying to escape. Marz said a newspaper editor was shot “just for writing about it.”

The accused Unionists formed a “Peace Party” pledging to resist Confederate conscription (compulsory military enlistment). In addition, they objected to the exemption of many large-scale slaveholders from the draft. Area slaveowners suspected the group was colluding with out-of-state pro-Union forces.

Impressed with Flandrau

Marz said she was particularly impressed with Charles E. Flandrau. A man of many hats, Flandrau tried to enlist in the Navy at age 13. Too young, he spent three years as a common sailor under other services.

Flandrau later worked in a mahogany mill in New York City before joining his father’s law firm as a lawyer. Moving to Traverse de Sioux, Minnesota, he served on the Minnesota Territorial Council, in the Minnesota Constitutional Convention and on the Minnesota territorial and state supreme courts. He was appointed a U.S. Agent for the Sioux in 1856 by President Pierce.

Learning of the violent U.S.-Dakota War in August 1862, he enlisted in the Union Army as a captain and created an armed force to defend New Ulm. Gov. Ramsey put Flandrau in charge of the defense of Minnesota’s southwestern frontier, a position he held for three years.

As a Sioux Agent, Flandrau made a list of all eligible claims to the Sioux. He didn’t live to see the claims all paid but they eventually were, Marz said.

“He had a receipt and hand-written notes for everything,” Marz said.

The Brown County Historical Society’s 2017 U.S.-Dakota War Commemoration continues with guided tours of the Pioneer Section of New Ulm City Cemetery at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25.