I visited Ft Ridgely for the first time in the summer of 2010.
My sister and I listened as a fort volunteer, the great grandson of one of the Sioux fighters in the war between the Sioux and the soldiers at the fort, provided the details of the 1862 battle. My sister and I are the great-granddaughters of one of the citizen soldiers in that fight.
Our great grandfather, Thomas Hughes, turned 21 years old the summer of 1862. He and his mother and four younger siblings had arrived in St. Peter by covered wagon in October, 1857. They were from County Armagh, Ireland. His father died on the voyage to America.
They homesteaded land in Lake Prairie Township, near St. Peter. Thomas was driving a wagon for the Army and was in New Ulm with a military escort to pick up supplies when the Indians attacked.
He and two others rode through them and to Fort Ridgely, hoping to bring help back to New Ulm. Fort Ridgely had no help to spare as it was preparing to be attacked. He joined the hastily formed St Peter Frontier Guardians, citizen soldiers from St Peter, and they served at Ftor Ridgely and New Ulm during the second attack there a few days later.
That October, Thomas joined the Army's 1st Regiment Mounted Rangers, Co B, Minnesota Volunteers for a period of 1 year. He fought at the battles of Big Mound, Dead Buffalo Lake and Stoney Lake in present day North Dakota. He mustered out on November 9, 1863.
Thomas returned to Lake Prairie and farmed there for his remaining years. He lived to be 80 years old. He received two medals for his service; one "Indian Wars" with a Indian warrior on horseback and the other, "The Civil War, 1861-1865," with Abraham Lincoln's image.