On The Sioux Trail: New Ulm & Fort Ridgely

U.S. – Dakota War of 1862, Part IV

First Battle of New Ulm
The First battle of New Ulm, painting by Michael Eischen

On 19 August 1962, 100 Dakota warriors attacked the town of New Ulm, which lies at the confluence of the Minnesota and Cottonwood Rivers. Six settlers were killed, and five wounded from the gunfire unleashed from the bluffs behind the town. The residents had been warned of a potential attack, and had barricaded the town’s center.

Fort Ridgely
Fort Ridgely in 1862

On 20 August, 400 Dakota warriors attacked Fort Ridgely and its 210 soldiers. Private Mark Greer, Co.C, was the first casualty. By the end of the day, five soldiers were killed and fifteen wounded.

Ammo stockade
Fort Ridgely ammunition storage hut

The next day, thunderstorms swept through the Minnesota River Valley, and the Dakota did not attack, although they did ambush a relief party that was sent from the Fort to New Ulm. When the rains subsided on the 22 August, the Dakota ranks had swelled to 800 warriors. The first attack was repelled, and several smaller attacks on the fort continued throughout the day. Another all out attack came in the evening hours, which was eventually repelled by setting the outer buildings on fire keep the Dakotas from making their way through the defenses.

Fort Ridgely today
Fort Ridgely today

Fort Ridgely remained in siege until the 27th, when Colonel Henry Sibley arrived with 1400 militia.

Foundation at Ft Ridgely
A remaining foundation at Ft Ridgely

On 23 August Dakota warriors once again attacked New Ulm, this time in enough numbers to surround the town. By now over 1000 residents were barricaded in the town center, along with around 300 citizen soldiers. The defenders of the town started to burn down buildings outside of the town center. In all, 190 buildings were torched in order to create an open space without cover. By afternoon of the 24th, the Dakota had withdrawn, and on the 25th the residents of New Ulm left for Mankato under military escort.

Kiesling House
The Frederick W. Kiesling house in New Ulm, MN. One of only three buildings to survive the Dakota attack in 1862. Today, it is the only wood-framed building of the war, to still be standing in its original location.

About icefogger

Just a basic, down to Earth, laid back type of guy here, who loves the outdoors, the indoors, jazz on the turntable, a fire in the woodstove, the northern lights blazing across the sky, and the company of good friends. View all posts by icefogger

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