Near Morton in Renville County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
“The Fight Was On”
"One of the sentinels fired. The shot was followed by a heavy volley from the Indians, which...killed and wounded several of our men and the fight was on."
Early on the morning of September 2, a U.S. guard sensed movement in the grass and fired a warning shot. Dakota men immediately returned fire.
"I scrambled out of my tent on my hands and knees," Anderson recalled, "and at the top of my voice...shouted to the men to 'keep low'—grab their arms—get to the front line of the camp—and hold back the Indians."
Two Views of the Battle
Anderson reported that men under his command shielded themselves behind overturned wagons and dead horses during the battle. Grant's men, Anderson recalled, jumped to their feet when the battle started. Wamditanka saw them: "The white men stood up and exposed themselves at first, but at last they learned to keep quiet."
Some of the U.S. soldiers had seen action before, but many were new recruits. The force also included many civilian volunteers without battle experience.
Birch Coulee Battlefield
Marker series. This marker is included in the Minnesota Historical Society marker series.
Location. 44° 34.6′ N, 94° 58.765′ W. Marker is near Morton, Minnesota, in Renville County. Marker can be reached from County Road 18 0.2 miles south of 690th Avenue (County Road 2), on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is within Birch Coulee Battlefield/State Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 68634 County Road 18, Morton MN 56270, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Prairie Factor (here, next to this marker); Dakota Positions (within shouting distance of this marker); The Battle of Birch Coulee (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Battle Tactics (about 500 feet away); Battle Scars (about 500 feet away); "A Beautiful Place to Encamp" (approx. 0.2 miles away); Wrong Place, Wrong Time (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named The Battle of Birch Coulee (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Morton.
More about this marker. captions:
• Anton Gag, Christian Heller, and Alexander Schwendinger, Sioux War Panorama (detail), 1893
• Albert Colgrave, Guards in the Rifle Pitts, 1862
Regarding “The Fight Was On”. In 1862, the Minnesota Dakota, also known by the French term, “Sioux," waged war against the United States following two years of unfulfilled treaty obligations. A burial detail of 160 to 170 soldiers and civilians was dispatched from Fort Ridgely to bury the remains of settlers who had been killed in the early weeks of the war. During the first night out, the detail was surrounded by Dakota, who attacked at dawn.
Also see . . . The Battle of Birch Coulee. Minnesota Historical Society. (Submitted on February 2, 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 February 2, 2014, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 321 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on February 2, 2014, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.