Rockford Wright County Minn July 25 1863
Samuel J. Brown, Esq.
Not having anything in particular to do and thinking that it might interest you to know where the Bloody Co. “I” is stationed, I take this opportunity of now informing you. On our arrival in St. Paul we were ordered up to Mananah 12 miles west of Forest City from there I was ordered with 15 of the boys down in through the Big Woods on the Scout after Indians where we have been ever since and have had some good times and some bad here on account of the mosquitoes and flies and long marches and at times very little to eat at others we have had plenty when we make [ ] onslaught on some farmers for chickens. I tell you Sam the Boys of Co. “I” can’t be beat on robbing their roosts.
I hope you have a good time up amongst the Indians. I wish you would scalp a few of them Sam and send the scalps along this way as scalps are worth $75.00 here now to anyone who takes one. Send a few along and I will go halves with you. I expect you and [torn page; three words missing] Maj. must have a dull time of it up there.
Sam I want you to do me a favor by going and seeing Sinte for me and find out how herself and the young one is getting on up in that God-forsaken country. I expect it must be hard times with her. Sam I want you to write me all the news from your place —how you get along with the Indians and all about matters and things in general if there is anything in particular Sinte wants me to do for her you will please let me know and if convenient I shall do it. By complying with the above requests and writing at your earliest convenience you will confer lasting favor on
address: Lieut. Jas Gorman Co. “I” 10th Regt. M.V. Mananah, Meeker Co. Minn
note on jacket in Samuel J. Brown’s handwriting: “Captain James Gorman of Renville Rangers”
Sometimes even I don’t know what to say, you know?
James Gorman was the brother of Minnesota Territorial Governor, Willis A Gorman. Before August of 1862, when he signed up for a company of Minnesota volunteer infantry shortly to become known as the Renville Rangers, James Gorman was employed on the Upper Sioux Reservation in west-central Minnesota.
This letter suggests that while living on the reservation, Gorman had a relationship with a Dakota woman, Sinte, and that Sinte, along with her child (Gorman’s?), had been exiled from Minnesota to Crow Creek, South Dakota.
Gorman’s friend, Samuel J. Brown was stationed at Crow Creek in the summer of 1863, as Dakota interpreter for the Federal Indian Agency. On the heels of his suggestion that hunting Indians for their scalps would liven up the monotony of duty at Crow Creek, Gorman asked Brown to send news of Sinte and her child, but was interested in helping them only if it is convenient.
It wasn’t a trivial reference to scalps. Little Crow (although his body had not yet been identified) had been killed and scalped about 20 miles away, three weeks before Gorman penned the letter.
Source: Photocopy in binder, “Samuel J. Brown, Frontiersman,” compiled and loaned to me in 2003 by Alan R. Woolworth. Possibly copied from the Joseph R. and Samuel J. Brown Family Papers, the Minnesota Historical Society.