"August 7, 1863. – We had three desperate engagements with 2,300 Sioux warriors, in each of which they were routed and finally driven across the Missouri with the loss of all their subsistence. Our loss was small, while at least one hundred and fifty savages were killed and wounded.”
H.H. Sibley, Brigadier General, Commanding
Rare pose of Minnesota General Henry H. Sibley. Please see below and I recommend further research on the web about this remarkable officer.
Whitney, St. Paul photographer's imprint
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Henry Hastings Sibley occupied the stage of Minnesota history for fifty-six active years. He was the territory's first representative in Congress (1849–1853) and the state's first governor (1858–1860). In 1862 he led a volunteer army against the Dakota under Ta Oyate Duta (His Red Nation, also known as Little Crow). After his victory at Wood Lake and his rescue of more than two hundred white prisoners, he was made a brigadier general in the Union Army.
Sibley was born in Detroit in 1811. His father later served as chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. At eighteen, Sibley joined the American Fur Company. He spent five years as manager of its store on Mackinac Island. In 1834 he became a partner in the company's Western Outfit, with responsibility for fur trading with the Dakota.Living at Mendota, he had personal and business connections with Fort Snelling. He ran the sutler's store (1836–1839) and contracted for mail delivery (1837–1839). He also maintained close ties with the Protestant missionaries who arrived in 1835.
An ardent outdoorsman and hunter, Sibley established ties with the Dakota who lived nearby. He had a relationship with a young Dakota woman who bore him a daughter, Helen, in August 1841. Sibley acknowledged the child and provided for her support and education. In 1843, however, he married Sarah Jane Steele. She was the sister of Franklin Steele, the new Fort Snelling sutler.
Sibley was deeply critical of United States policy towards Native people. In 1842 he lobbied hard for a treaty that would have created a Native territory and state in what is now southern Minnesota. Later, while in Congress, he argued for the preservation of Native land from "the grasping hand of the white man."
The American Fur Company failed in 1842. Its demise and the rejection of a northwestern Native territory convinced Sibley that his own and the region's only future lay with white immigration. He began to invest in steamboats, timber, and land.
After the admission of both Iowa (1846) and Wisconsin (1848) as states, Sibley helped persuade Congress to create Minnesota Territory (1849). Treaties signed in 1851 effectively dispossessed the Dakota. Their terms opened the new territory to legal white immigration.
Sibley played an unofficial but key role in the agreements. He helped shape the terms so that he and other former fur traders received payment of less than half of the debts they claimed. These terms and amounts were disputed by some Dakota. As territorial representative he achieved the treaties' ratification after a bruising battle in Congress, where Southern interests opposed them.
As a politician and framer of the state's constitution Sibley sought to stay above partisan feuds. Although loyal to the Democratic Party, he drew away from its proslavery wing in the 1850s.
Sibley's role in the US–Dakota War of 1862 remains the most controversial aspect of his career. While working for the release of hostages, he made promises to the Dakota that he failed to keep. He had been told by Major General Pope to treat them "like wild beasts" and he bowed to public demands for a mass execution.
Sibley set up a military commission that conducted brief trials of Dakota prisoners. He approved death sentences for more than three hundred men. Tension in the state mounted when President Lincoln limited executions to only thirty-eight prisoners shown to be guilty of murder or rape. Despite threats of mob action, Sibley's forces preserved order. The mass hanging was carried out according to law.
In 1863 Sibley led an expedition against the Dakota to the west, marching to the Missouri River and back. Meanwhile he used his army position to try to protect other Dakota from the anti-Native hysteria of white citizens. His restraint earned him abuse in Minnesota newspapers for being "soft" on Natives.
In his final twenty-five years Sibley remained active as an elder statesman and civic leader. A lifelong lover of books, a scholar, and a published writer, Sibley had long contributed to the state's cultural life. He worked with the Smithsonian Institution to publish a dictionary of the Dakota language in 1852. He was a founder of the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Historical Society around the same time. Sibley died in St. Paul in 1891."