Near Montevideo in Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
On September 26, 1862, the 270 men, women and children taken captive by the Dakota during the war were released to military commander Henry H. Sibley at this site, known from that time on as Camp Release.
Years later at the dedication of this monument, Major James Madison Bowler described the scene that September day: "The officers and frontier troops formed in line along the road near the wheat field....We had not (yet) had our tents pitched when General Sibley marched up and received the surrender of the Indians and the release of the captives....They marched down that slope and were delivered to us upon this very ground."
Some of the freed captives also wrote of their experiences that day.
Samuel J. Brown
Seventeen-year-old Sam Brown was one of many captives released from the camp near Maza sa's village. He and his siblings, along with their mother, a member of the Sissetowan tribe, had been seized after their house was attacked and burned while their father, the prominent pioneer and politician Joseph R. Brown, was away on business. In his journals, young Sam told of the day Sibley and his men arrived to free them.
"No grander sight ever met the eyes than when the troops marched by with bayonets glistening in the bright noonday sun, colors flying,
Brown also made a count of those in the camp, which grew more crowded as other Dakota were brought in or came of their own accord. Excluding the soldiers, he wrote, "there were at Camp Release 2,188 souls — Indians 1,918, captive white men 4, captive white women and children 104, captive mixed bloods 162."
From "In Captivity," published in the Mankato Weekly Review, April-May, 1897.
The wife of the Yellow Medicine (Upper Sioux) Agency doctor, Sarah Wakefield was captured along with her two young children as they fled toward Fort Ridgely; a man accompanying them was killed. She later wrote about her fears and the hardships of life during her captivity but she praised the Dakota who had treated her kindly. Conditions during her brief stay at Camp Release proved difficult, too.
"About 3 o'clock Sibley and staff arrived and ordered those having prisoners to give them up. Old Eagle Head and C'aske came to get me and, before I left, the old woman tore her shawl and gave me half, as I had none. I was conducted to a large tent soon surrounded with soldiers. We were given some straw to
"(The following day) they had a sort of court inquiry, and we were all questioned....I left Camp Release with four ladies who had also been prisoners. We were sent away without any escort over 70 miles through the scene of those awful murders."
From "Six Weeks in Sioux Teepee: A Narrative of Indian Captivity" (University of Oklahoma Press).
Erected by the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Minnesota Historical Society marker series.
Location. 44° 55.971′ N, 95° 44.853′ W. Marker is near Montevideo, Minnesota, in Lac qui Parle County. Marker can be reached from 445th Avenue south of U.S. 212, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Montevideo MN 56265, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Tried and Sentenced (here, next to this marker); Maza sa Protected His Village (here, next to this marker); Camp Release State Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Camp Release School Bell (approx. 13.3 miles away); Henry Hill 1829-1879 (approx. 13.3 miles away); Ancient Exposed Rocks (approx. 13.3 miles away); World's Oldest Rock (approx. 13.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Montevideo.
More about this marker. captions:
Camp Release, photographed by Adrian J. Ebell, a journalist covering the war Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society
This plan dates from 1894, when a monument was dedicated at Camp Release. Some of the trees planted to radiate out from the monument still stand today. Also still visible are the rifle pits built in Sibley's base camp to protect the officers' tents. From Minnesota State Parks archives
Henry H. Sibley J.C. Buttre, courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society
Samuel J. Brown Minnesota Historical Society
Sarah Wakefield Minnesota Historical Society
Also see . . .
1. The U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. Minnesota Historical Society. (Submitted on January 20, 2014.)
2. Surrender at Camp Release. Wikipedia entry. (Submitted on January 20, 2014.)
3. Dakota War Captives Enumerated at Camp Release in 1862. (Submitted on January 20, 2014.)
Additional keywords. U.S.-Dakota War of 1862
Categories. • Wars, US Indian •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 20, 2014, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 327 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on January 20, 2014, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.