Dakota County in the Civil War

crooksThe Dakota County Historical Society’s latest newsletter includes an article about the Minnesota county in 1863. The article touches on regional conflicts with Native Americans, and among the illustrations is a photograph of William Crooks from my collection. Crooks served as the colonel of the Sixth Minnesota Infantry. In this excerpt, Col. Crooks toasts Gen. Henry Hastings Sibley. The toast was recounted by a correspondent for the St. Paul Pioneer with the nom de plume INVALIDE:

To the far west of Dakota County, Sibley’s Indian Expedition was encamped at Camp Hayes at the “Great Bend” of the Sheyenne River during the Fourth of July. That evening, as reported by INVALIDE, Sibley and his staff as well as the field and staff officers of the different regiments of the Expedition, were invited to dine together at the headquarters’ mess tent. Colonel Crooks offered a toast to the health of the Brigadier General Commanding. Sibley replied saying: “I trust there is no gentleman present, or in this camp who would shrink from any sacrifice needed to accomplish the proposed objects of this expedition. For myself, I am not only willing to make any personal sacrifice, but am determined so far as I am concerned. I will endeavor to execute to the utmost of my ability, the important trusts developed to me. I shall take no backward step that I can avoid, until I secure Little Crow and his band of murderers.”

No one knew at the celebratory dinner, or could have known, that Little Crow had been shot and had bled to death the day before in Minnesota. Sibley would not have his prize.”

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