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May 29, 2013

Letter from G. Merrill Dwelle, at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, to his sister Carrie Dwelle in Lake City, Minnesota, about incidents near the Lower Sioux Agency – May 29, 1863

Filed under: Civil War Daybook — Lori Williamson @ 2:05 pm

Fort Snelling Minnesota
May 29th 1863
Sister Carrie
I returned to the Fort on Wednesday morning having been absent since the date of the letter I wrote you stating that I had orders to go to Camp Pope. I was on board the steamer fourteen day’s so you can well imagine the pleasure of the trip and then to increase the fascinations low water lay bare many sand bars which we had the pleasure of tugging away at the capstan of the boat to drag it over. besides listening to storys of bloody murders that made our dreams appear quite “skull” lik. Our destination was Camp Pope but the water being so low we could not go so far up so unloaded the stores at what is termed the Lower Agency[,] which is nine miles from that place by land. The Agency is the place where the Indian outbreak commenced last fall. Lieut. Whipple of the Battery was there building a church for Mr. [Heiman,] a Minister of the Episcopal denomination[.] I will send you a picture of it in this letter[.] Mr [Heiman] was a missionary among the Indians at the time but had to flee for his life[.] The church is of Stone and presents quite a pleasant appearance. I saw numerous graves of those that were massacreed last fall[.] I also was on the ground where Capt. Marsh with his company was surprised and slaughtered[.] Little mounds mark the resting place of those that were not removed by friends[.] One thing I was sad to see was wherever there was the grave of an Indian[,] the body was dug up and allowed to rot above ground. With all our boasting of our civilization are we not almost as barberous as they[?] they scalp their enemy[,] cut off their hands and feet and in return some of our men heap insults upon their bodys after they have been mouldering for weeks in the grave. I believe I can let an enemy sleep in peace after death has closed his eyes[.] if I could not I would suggest a few years of civilizing and Christenizing to teach me that respect we all owe to the dead be he friend or foe.
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Citation: May 29, 1863, Letter from G. Merrill Dwelle to Carrie, Correspondence, 1863. G. Merrill Dwelle papers. Minnesota Historical Society. [A/ .D989]

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