U.S.-Dakota War remembered 160 years later

Submitted image Local history organizations are commemorating the 160th anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. This image shows numerous New Ulm homesteads were set ablaze during the Aug. 19, 1862, Battle of New Ulm.

BROWN COUNTY — Next week is the 160th anniversary of the U.S.–Dakota War which began Aug. 18, 1862, and includes the battles of New Ulm on Aug. 19, 1862, and Aug. 23, 1862.

The Brown County Historical Society and other organizations will mark the anniversary with a series of historical programming throughout the week including tours, tributes, speaker presentations and exhibits.


The Brown County Museum will host a series of walking and bus tours to sites connected to the U.S.-Dakota war.


• At 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, the Minnesota River Valley Bus Tour will take guests on a field trip to sites connected to the U.S.-Dakota War. The bus tour goes from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $55.

• 9:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, two Milford area bus tours will be held. The buses leave the Brown County Museums at The cost of the tour is $22.

• 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, the Leavenworth/Shetek Trail Bus tour will leave from the Brown County Museum. The tour will include a noon presentation at the Springfield Museum. The tour cost is $55.


• 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day from Wednesday, Aug. 17 through Saturday, Aug. 20 the museum will host downtown walking tours. Tour guides will take groups through downtown New Ulm and to locations connected to the battles of New Ulm. The cost of the tour is $5 and must be pre-registered.

•10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, the museum will hold the Katie Gropper downtown walking tour. This tour is based on sites connected to the Battles of New Ulm related to Katie Gropper, a local girl who experienced the conflict firsthand.

• 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, a tour of the New Ulm Cemetery will be held, highlighting the personalities of Brown County’s past. The tour cost is $5.

Speaker Presentations

• 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16, at New Ulm Public Library. Colin Mustful will give a presentation called “The U.S. Dakota War: A historical Context.” Mustful will trace the history of the war starting in 1805 with the signing of the Pike Treaty at Bdote. The presentation will identify multiple perspectives and factors contributing to the conflict and the consequences. The presentation is free to the public.

• 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, at the BCHS Annex, David Nichols will give on Bishop Henry Whipple, the first Episcopal bishop of Minnesota who was known as a humanitarian and advocate for Native Americans. The program cost $5.

• 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, Teresa Peterson & Walter LaBatte Jr. will give a presentation at the BCHS Annex called “Voices from Pejuhtazizi: Dakota Stories and Storytellers. The program cost is $5.

• 12 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19 Dan Munson will give a presentation in the BCHS Annex called “The Dakota War: A Numerical Review. The cost is $5.

•2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19 Bryce Stenzel will give a presentation at the BCHS Annex titled “We Cannot Escape History, Abraham Lincoln’s Trials by Fire, 1862.” The cost is $5.

• 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, a banquet and keynote presentation will be held at Turner Hall. Stephen Osman will give a presentation called “Minnesota’s Own Civil War: The Dakota Conflict of 1862.” Osman is a graduate of St. Olaf College who retired as a senior historian with the Minnesota Historical Society. He managed historic Fort Snelling for over 30 years and actively researches Minnesota’s role in the Civil War and Dakota War. A prepaid reservation of $45 is required to attend.

•6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23 John LaBatte will give a presentation at the New Ulm Public Library on the Battles of New Ulm. The program is free to the public.


• 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, a wreath-laying and tribute will be held at the Milford Monument with the Junior Pioneers. The monument is located 8 miles west of New Ulm along County Road 29. The Milford Monument was created in memory of those killed in Milford Township during the initial attack by the Dakota on Aug. 18, 1862. The monument was erected on July 5, 1929.

•5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, a wreath-laying and tribute will be held at the Defender’s Monument with the Junior Pioneers. The Defender’s Monument is located on Center Street between the Brown County Court House and State Street Theater. The monument was erected by the State of Minnesota to commemorate the battles of New Ulm.

•1 p.m. A wreath laying and tribute will be held at the Civil and Native American War Monument in the New Ulm City Cemetery with the Junior Pioneers


• 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. the Brown County Museum will hold an open house for “never Shall I Forget: A New Look at the U.S.-Dakota War” on the third floor of the museum. In 2012, BCHS unveiled the permanent exhibit “Never Shall I Forget” for the 150th Anniversary of the conflict. For the 160th anniversary, BCHS has updated the exhibit.

BCHS Executive Director Kathleen Backer said changes were made to respond to critiques of the narrative and expand on other aspects of the conflict. New additions to the exhibit include information on the history of the Dakota people before and after 1862.

Content on the military’s response to the war, such as the creation and location of forts, were added. The expanded exhibit will include a look at the Depredation Claims filed after the war. The Depredation Claims were claims for property damaged by the Dakota.

The update will feature new artwork and artifacts on loan from private collectors.

For more information on U.S. -Dakota War commemoration week, visit the Brown County Historical Society website.


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