Dakota Era

Home

Winona 1851-1861 
        Dakota Era
        Pioneer Era
        Eve of  War
        Questions
        Bibliography

Road to Gettysburg
        Company K
         Questions

July 1, 1863
        Reports
       Company K
 

July 2, 1863
        The Historians
        Company K
        Reports
 

July 3, 1863
        Reports
        Company K
        Newspapers

July 4, 1863
        Reports
        Company K
        Newspapers 
        Questions

Manuscripts

        Reports

        Letters
              Carpenter
              Goddard
              Marvin
             Jane Ely
             Charles Ely

        Diaries
              Marvin

        Newspaper

NYC & Brooklyn
        Reports
        Company K

1ST Minnesota & 20th Maine

Acknowledgements & Credits
        Bibliography
        Links

St. Patrick's Day,
March 17, 1863

Company K Roster
1861-1864

User's Guide

 

 

 

There was a time when our people covered the whole land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea covered its shell-paved floor. But that time has long since passed away with the greatness of tribes now almost forgotten. I will not mourn over our untimely decay, nor reproach my paleface brothers with hastening it.... Every part of this country is sacred to my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove has been has been hallowed by some fond memory or some sad experience of my tribe. Even the rocks which seem to lie dumb as they swelter in the sun ...thrill with memories of past events connected with the fate of my people. The braves, fond mothers, glad-hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here...still love these solitudes. Their deep fastnesses at eventide grow shadowy with the presence of dusty spirits. When the last redman shall have perished from the earth and his memory among the white men shall have become a myth these shores shall swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe.... At night when the streets of your cities and villages shall be silent, and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled and still love this land.

 

The Mississippi River was the center of life in the Upper Mississippi Valley. The Mdewakantonwan Band of the Dakota who inhabited the area around Winona believed that they were the most important of all the Dakota because they lived "precisely over the centre of the earth [therefore] they occup[ied] the gate that open[ed] to the western world." Abraham Lincoln called the Mississippi the Father of Waters. We know it today as the longest river in America, rising in Lake Itaska in northern Minnesota and flowing southward for 2,350 miles where it is empties into the Gulf of Mexico. This great river created a Valley that was the site of many cultures. Evidence gathered by archaeologists tells us that people lived in this valley as early as 9500BC. These early people carried on trade with others far distant and built civilizations and townsites. The evidence of these people and their civilizations is scarce. The important fact, however, is that the Mississippi River Valley, like other major river valleys, was a cradle of civilization.

LaMoille Rock Shelter, which is located south of the city of Winona on the Mississippi river contains the earliest evidence of human habitation in Winona County. The site at LaMoille is a rare example of a Woodland tradition site (circa 800 B.C.-900 A.D.). Another site of the Woodland tradition was found near the city of Hastings on the Mississippi River. The Winona County site was excavated by Lloyd A. Wilford of the University of Minnesota in 1930. The La Moille Rock Shelter is believed to be an early campsite. Among the findings was a large clay vessel with an exterior marked by imprints of twisted cordage. Vessels like this were placed directly in the fire when used for cooking. Two major sites of the Mississippian tradition (900 A.D. to 1700 A.D.) have been verified near the junction of the Cannon River and Mississippi River in the vicinity of Red Wing and on the central and upper Minnesota River. The people of this tradition lived in villages of up to 800 people. They depended on hunting, but they were also agriculturalists who cultivated crops of corn, beans, squash, and tobacco. They carried on trade with another Mississippian group in southwestern Minnesota which was the source of catlinite quarried near Pipestone: The Dakota who are the earliest historic people of Minnesota emerged out of this Mississippian culture. The Mdewakantonwan band of the Eastern Dakota resided in different sites in Winona County. Most of these sites were along the Mississippi River where the city of Winona is now located but they also occupied, hunted and probably grew some crops inland from the river.

The Dakota were a group of seven allied bands. The Mdewakantonwan, Wahpekute, Wahpeton, and the Sisseton were members of a Siouyan linguistic group and were known as the Eastern Dakota while the Yankton, Yanktonai and the Sisseton who spoke Lakota were called the Western Dakota. The social structure of these bands was based on kinship relationships which also governed how these peoples dealt with others. Kinship ties which carried with them reciprocal rights, responsibilities and expectations, could be characterized as immediate relationships within the extended family or remote relationships with outsiders. As the fur trade moved westward, this social structure facilitated connections between the American and the Dakota. The kinship ties established between the Dakota and the Americans took on economic and political connotations, as well as social ones. The Americans tended to maintain their reciprocal responsibilities as long as it was convenient and profitable. For the Dakota the kinship connection was permanent. The Dakota understanding of the relationship and their consequent reliance on it in dealing with the Americans eventually contributed to the permanent loss of their homeland through treaties they signed with the United States in 1837 and 1851. The final culmination of a political socioeconomic relationship that became a cultural conflict was the bloody and tragic Sioux Uprising which occurred in 1862.

In the seventeenth century the center of Dakotan culture was centered around the Mille Lac region of Minnesota. The Dakota engaged in the fur trade through their connections with the French and later the British. Competition in this trade between the Chippewa and the Dakota led to a series of conflicts between the two tribes. By 1800 the Dakota moved southward from Mille Lacs and settled along the Minnesota River and on the Mississippi River south of the Minnesota River. The Mdewakantonwan band occupied a permanent summer camp on the site of Winona and the hereditary leader of this band was Wabasha.

Since the discovery of the new world, the Mississippi Valley has witnessed the native civilizations of the Dakota and Chippewa Indians displaced by the coming of the Europeans. First were the French who explored and settled the valley only to be driven out soon after by their mortal enemy, the British. The French and the British established trading posts and some mining sites along the course of the river. A combination of world politics that culminated in the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and the Louisiana Purchase turned this rich river valley over to a new nation.

The American settlers, who moved westward, did not place as much emphasis on the fur trade as did their European predecessors. The American settlers moved west with their families, households goods, animals, and plows; they intended to establish permanent settlements on the frontier. One of the fascinating realities about the history of the Mississippi River Valley is that many of the present townsites along the Upper Mississippi River were sites of prehistoric civilizations, Indian villages or trading posts. There has been a continuity of civilization here that stretches back into pre-historic times. Keokuk, Muscatine, Dubuque, LaCrosse, and Winona were all sites of earlier civilizations.