The Civil War, Day by Day

Painted Horse

Uprising of Sioux Indians

On August 17, 1862, Little Crow waged an uprising against his local Indian agency in Minnesota. Fortunately, the encounter lasted only six weeks.

Until this conflict, Little Crow was not respected by many of his fellow Sioux. They looked upon him as a coward who adopted the white man’s ways and allowed himself to be duped by broken treaties. Yet the chief altered his ways once his people began to starve. He pleaded with the Indian agency to secure more provisions for his tribe - only for an insensitive trader to reply, “let them eat grass.”

With these words, Little Crow resolved to fight for his people. At his instigation, the Sioux killed fifty men at the agency, then went on to pillage other parts of Minnesota. Many frightened settlers had to abandon their farms in order to survive.

Although this conflict placed a tremendous burden on the Union during a time of war, the Army was able to mount a quick and strong offensive. On September 23, 1862, Colonel Henry Sibley captured more than 1,000 Indians. By the year’s end, 38 of the Sioux had been put to death, and this “tragic interlude” during the Civil War ended.

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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.