Follow the Money: August 17, 1862

Before I leave the story of the 1862 annuity delay, I want the change gears and share one of my favorite stories on this subject.

I will not ague that if the guys escorting the  annuity payment had not wanted to end a hot, dusty day with some nice cold beers, the annuity would have arrived on the frontier in time to prevent the war. By my calculations, the gold might have arrived at Fort Ridgely no more than 12 hours earlier, maybe around the midnight between August 17 and 18, 1862.

By that time, the die was cast; the settlers at Acton were dead.

But this is the kind of source that keeps historians in the archival trenches. Sometimes the real story is so much better than anything someone could make up.

Since this is a source at MHS, I’m supplying only a slice of the transcription. (Parentheses) in original. [Brackets] mine.

E.A.C. Hatch to Sister September 24, 1862, Edwin Hatch Papers MHS

“ … I left St. Paul Sunday morning [August 17] with four men, traveling by express… with exclusive rights to the stage, and eighty-four thousand dollars in coin intended for the Sioux annuity payment.

            We traveled about ninety five miles and stopped for the night at a roadside tavern (burned by the Indians before I returned) about fifteen miles off the stage road, but we had the privilege of running the team forty five miles off the stage route (to Ft.Ridgely) if I thought it best. We started early in the morning, traveled rapidly and about 11 o’clock a.m. met a man, whom I knew, very much excited, horse nearly exhausted, who stated that the Sioux had broken out and were killing & murdering the whites.

            We kept on and reached Ft.Ridgely at 12 o’clock m. We there learned that Capt. Marsh (Commanding post) had left with about fifty men for the Lower Sioux Agency the point of the outbreak and fourteen miles above the Fort ….”

By the way, I am not reading “bar” into Hatch’s word “tavern.” There were “dry” temperance taverns in the 19th century. But, while lore of the war holds that Dakota warriors indiscriminately burned settler homes in 1862, informed observers corrected those newspaper stories on the spot –even if the corrections have gone unnoticed in history. Two types of house were burned in 1862: those belonging to Dakota farmers, and roadside inns serving liquor.

Hatch didn’t need to run the stage 15 miles off the road to find a good place to sleep.


Photo credit: Hollywood movie poster, John Wayne in Stagecoach, Google Images.

This entry was posted in Commemorating Controversy, Primary Sources. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Follow the Money: August 17, 1862

  1. Pingback: “Let the Sioux Race be Annihilated” | A Thrilling Narrative of Indian Captivity: Dispatches from the Dakota War of 1862

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