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Key dates: 1862 U.S.-Dakota War

  • January 28, 2012 - 9:44 PM

May 20: Congress passes Homestead Act and settler numbers increase.

June-July: Drought causes poor harvest on Minnesota River valley reservations.

July-August: Dakota are starving. U.S. annuity payments to them are months late. They seek credit to buy food, but traders refuse.

Aug. 17: Five settlers are killed by four young Dakota warriors near Acton.

Aug. 18: Attacks by Dakota braves on settlers and the Army commence across south-central Minnesota.

Sept. 23: Dakota warriors keep Army pinned down for 36 hours at Battle of Birch Coulee. Reinforcements arrive and war ends. Estimates of settlers killed in the war range from 400 to 800; estimates of Dakota killed range from 20 to 150.

Nov. 7: Nearly 1,700 Dakota men, women and children are marched to Fort Snelling, groups of settlers attacking on the way. Estimated 130 to 300 die of disease or starvation while being held in camp near fort in winter of 1862-63.

Nov.-Dec.: 303 Dakota men are convicted of rape, murder. President Lincoln commutes 264 sentences, but signs order condemning rest to be hanged. One more man gets reprieve from state due to faulty testimony.

Dec. 26: At Mankato, 38 Dakota warriors are hanged, the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

1863: Congress banishes Dakota from Minnesota, a law now unobserved but still on the books. About 6,000 Dakota are displaced.

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