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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Fairfax in Nicollet County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

This Fort Had a Purpose

 
 
This Fort Had a Purpose Marker image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, October 25, 2013
1. This Fort Had a Purpose Marker
Inscription. Fort Ridgely served as a buffer between Dakota Indians on the reservations and white settlers pouring into the Minnesota River valley. Soldiers stationed here enforced treaty agreements and protected the Dakota from intrusions onto their reservations. Over the years, the army attempted to keep peace despite mounting friction and strife between the two groups over social, economic, and religious issues.

By 1854 there were 52 U.S. Army forts west of the Mississippi. Some were built for national defense or to protect economic interests. Others, like Ridgely, were "buffer" posts and not considered permanent. Fort Ridgely operated for only 14 years, closing in 1867.

Finding a Suitable Location
In 1852, Captain Napoleon J.T. Dana and Colonel Francis Lee were ordered to select a suitable location for a new military fort on the upper Minnesota River. They eventually chose this site, high on a bluff overlooking the river and valley. The site had its pros and cons:
Pros:
Supplies and soldiers could easily be transported up the Minnesota River.
Good boat landing at base of bluff.
Spring nearby for drinking water.
Cons:
While close to the reservations, the fort was, in fact, a little too far away—15 miles from the Lower Sioux Agency and 40 miles from the Upper
This Fort Had a Purpose Marker image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, October 25, 2013
2. This Fort Had a Purpose Marker
marker is in the background to the right of the bench
Sioux Agency.
Fort Ridgely was on the north side of the river, while both agencies were on the south side.
The fort was built for peacekeeping. It was vulnerable when used for defense, as in the summer of 1862. Deep ravines flanked three sides, while the north side was open prairie.
The site was cold, windy, and unprotected during winter.

Minnesota Historical Society
Fort Ridgely

 
Erected by the Minnesota Historical Society.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Minnesota Historical Society marker series.
 
Location. 44° 27.191′ N, 94° 44.1′ W. Marker is near Fairfax, Minnesota, in Nicollet County. Marker can be reached from County Highway 30 1.1 miles west of State Highway 4, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in Fort Ridgely State Park; fee area – a Minnesota state park vehicle permit is required. Marker is at or near this postal address: 72404 County State Aid Highway 30, Fairfax MN 55332, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Economic Engine (here, next to this marker); Four Days From Fort Snelling (a few steps from this marker); A Minority in Their Homeland / U.S.-Dakota Conflict
Fort Ridgely Historic Site image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, October 25, 2013
3. Fort Ridgely Historic Site
(a few steps from this marker); Fort Ridgely (a few steps from this marker); Reinforcements Arrive (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Ridgely Closes (within shouting distance of this marker); Officers' Quarters—C (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Ridgely State Monument (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Fairfax.
 
More about this marker. caption:
David Geister, Bird's-Eye View from St. Anthony Falls to Upper Sioux Agency, 1854, 2005
 
Also see . . .  Fort Ridgely. Minnesota Historical Society. (Submitted on January 10, 2014.) 
 
Additional keywords. U.S.-Dakota War of 1862
 
Categories. Forts, CastlesNative AmericansSettlements & SettlersWars, US Indian
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 259 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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