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38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the…

38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier's…

by Scott W. Berg

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In this history of the Dakota War of 1862, in which Little Crow reluctantly led a series of attacks on frontier settlements in southwestern Minnesota, Berg illuminates a little-known chapter of the blood-stained American West, long over-shadowed by the Civil War raging at the time. After the killing of several hundred whites, the state militia and federal troops struck back, capturing or killing most of Little Crow's warriors, and driving the remainder, including their chief, into the Dakota Territory.

Of the captured warriors, just over 300 in number, nearly all were condemned to death by a U.S. Army court-martial which acted in haste as spurred on by the overwhelming anger and demand for vengeance among the white people of Minnesota. But President Lincoln, responding to reports and messages to him from cooler, less blood-thirsty, advocates for justice, intervened, directing that only those whose guilt in murdering non-combatants was beyond doubt. should be condemned to hang.

38 Dakota warriors, including one who had sheltered white captives and who was condemned because of mistaken identity, were hanged together in a public spectacle on the day after Christmas, 1862. This seemed to appease those calling for the eradication of the Dakota presence in Minnesota, but as Berg notes, a turning point had been reached on the path that led to the end of native freedom on the Great Plains. ( )
  ChuckNorton | Aug 21, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307377245, Hardcover)

In August 1862, after decades of broken treaties, increasing hardship, and relentless encroachment on their lands, a group of Dakota warriors convened a council at the tepee of their leader, Little Crow. Knowing the strength and resilience of the young American nation, Little Crow counseled caution, but anger won the day. Forced to either lead his warriors in a war he knew they could not win or leave them to their fates, he declared, “[Little Crow] is not a coward: he will die with you.”

So began six weeks of intense conflict along the Minnesota frontier as the Dakotas clashed with settlers and federal troops, all the while searching for allies in their struggle. Once the uprising was smashed and the Dakotas captured, a military commission was convened, which quickly found more than three hundred Indians guilty of murder. President Lincoln, embroiled in the most devastating period of the Civil War, personally intervened in order to spare the lives of 265 of the condemned men, but the toll on the Dakota nation was still staggering: a way of life destroyed, a tribe forcibly relocated to barren and unfamiliar territory, and 38 Dakota warriors hanged—the largest government-sanctioned execution in American history.

Scott W. Berg recounts the conflict through the stories of several remarkable characters, including Little Crow, who foresaw how ruinous the conflict would be for his tribe; Sarah Wakefield, who had been captured by the Dakotas, then vilified as an “Indian lover” when she defended them; Minnesota bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple, who was a tireless advocate for the Indians’ cause; and Lincoln, who transcended his own family history to pursue justice.

Written with uncommon immediacy and insight, 38 Nooses details these events within the larger context of the Civil War, the history of the Dakota people, and the subsequent United States–Indian wars. It is a revelation of an overlooked but seminal moment in American history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:17 -0400)

"38 Nooses" details the events surrounding the 1862 uprising of the Dakota Indians led by Little Crow within the larger context of the Civil War, the history of the Dakota people, and the subsequent United States-Indian wars.

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