The Battle of New Ulm

August 23-24, 1862 in New Ulm, Minnesota

Union Forces Commanded by
Strength Killed Wounded Missing / Captured
± 800 34 60 ?
Indian Forces Commanded by
Chief Little Crow
Strength Killed Wounded Missing / Captured
est. 650 ? ? ?
Conclusion: Union Victory

A company of 80 men from Mankato, under Capt. William Bierbauer, and a company of 73 men from South Bend, under Capt. John D. Zimmerman were raised to help the townpeople of New Ulm.

On August 20, both companies arrived at New Ulm. More men from the surrounding areas were also sent to help in the defense of the town. Once all of the outside help was at New Ulm, martial law was declared. The companies were organized and began fortifying the city.

On August 23, around 9:30 A.M., about 650 Dakota Indians, with several chiefs, streamed out of the woods onto the prairie west of New Ulm and formed a long, curved line. When they were within 1 1/2 miles of the town, they began to spread out in formation. They continued this movement until within rifleshot of the town. They had the entire front of the town covered. The 2,000 civilians were barricaded within a 3 block area. The civilians feared an outbreak of disease, as sanitary conditions worsened. Also, they were running low on food.

The battle started when the huge group of Dakota Indians appeared west of St. Peter.

Because the wind was from the lower part of the town, the Indians concentrated near the river, where they set fire to the buildings and advanced behind the smoke.

The Dakotas kept assaulting the town until it was dark. Their charges were finally broken up, and the townspeople routed the Indians. There was sporadic fighting until dark. Later this night, the Indians held a council-of-war. They decided to attack the town again to get revenge for the day's losses. With some 400 Indians, Little Crow left for New Ulm once again.

After nightfall at New Ulm, there were around 40 buildings still standing outside the barriers that was still standing. They were ordered to be burned. In all, 190 buildings were destroyed in town.

On August 24, around 9:30 A.M., the Dakotas attacked a second time. Although most of the town was burned, the settlers managed to hold them off. They attempted to drive off some cattle and then withdrew. Many settlers were dead or wounded and the town of New Ulm had been reduced to a smoking rubble. The only area of the town still standing at the end of the battle was the 3 block area the settlers had fortified.

After a few days of being holed up in the town, the civilians feared an outbreak of disease, as sanitary conditions worsened. They were also running low on food. The decision to use Mankato as a refuge was that the Cottonwood River could be forded more easily than St. Peter. They evacuated the women and children with over 150 wagons and ox carts. After traveling some 30 miles to Mankato. They arrived safely after nightfall.

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