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January 29, 2013

Minnesota and the Civil War

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison Aten @ 2:22 pm

Minnesota and the Civil WarMinnesota and the Civil War by Annette Atkins

An overview of how Minnesotans of diverse backgrounds—soldiers, women, African Americans, and Native Americans—served their country during the Civil War.

Excerpted from Creating Minnesota: A History from the Inside Out.

Minnesota responded to President Lincoln’s call to arms in 1861. Men picked up guns, bayonets, knapsacks (pens and paper, too). Immigrants, migrants from other states, and mixed-race Indian/white men joined the multiple Minnesota regiments. The 1st Minnesota distinguished itself at Gettysburg (1863); the 3rd met with less success and suffered Southern imprisonment. Women sewed uniforms and then took up plows and solitary motherhood. They made for the soldiers everything from sewing kits to bandages to socks. Low-grade, chronic fear permeated daily life. A second civil war between Dakota Indian people and white settlers broke out in the hungry summer of 1862 and ended with 1,000+ casualties and the expulsion from the state of Dakota people (guilty and innocent). Many settlers abandoned their lands in the face of this home-grown war; others stayed, their land titles secure; a few made the trip to Mankato in December 1862 to witness the hanging of the 38 Indian/mixed-blood men who had been convicted of capital crimes in the war. Minnesotans lived in the memories of its two civil wars for decades.

$1.99 E-book, ISBN: 978-087351-879-6
Minnesota Historical Society Bookstorekindle, nookkoboiTunes

An MHS Express title

January 15, 2013

War Within War: Lincoln and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862

Filed under: Authors, Event, Native American — Alison Aten @ 4:21 pm

Lincoln and the IndiansTickets are still available for the afternoon History Forum program this Saturday January 19th with David Nichols, author of Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics.

He will also speak in Mankato Tuesday January 22nd at Minnesota State University

In early 1862 a federal investigator cautioned President Lincoln that mass corruption within Minnesota’s system of Indian Agencies would lead to disaster if left unchecked. The president, consumed by the battle to preserve the Union, ignored the warning. When the U.S.-Dakota War broke out eight months later, Lincoln told Minnesota’s governor Alexander Ramsey, “Attend to the Indians… Necessity has no law.” The war and its aftermath—U.S. victory, Dakota internment, the largest mass hanging in American history, and the forced removal of the Dakota from their homelands—solidified Minnesota’s place in the Union, even as it set the stage for the Indian Wars to come, and tragically altered the lives of thousands of Dakota people for generations to come.

David Nichols is the former academic dean at Southwestern College in Winfield, his alma mater. A native of Kansas, he has a Ph.D. in history from the College of William and Mary.  His dissertation, Lincoln and the Indians:  Civil War Policy and Politics, was published by the University of Missouri Press in 1978.  That book, still the definitive study of Lincoln’s Indian policies during the Civil War, was reissued as a paperback by the University of Illinois Press in 2000 and was published in a third edition by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in June 2012.  Dr. Nichols has spoken across the nation at venues including the Clinton Presidential Library,  the Eisenhower Library, Atlanta History Center, John F. Kennedy Library, the Air Force Academy and the National Archives.

To learn more about the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, please visit

August 17, 2012

David Nichols on MPR!

Filed under: History, Interview, MHS press, Native American — lucia.randle @ 9:35 am

php5sRMFzAuthor of Lincoln and the Indians, David Nichols joined MPR host Cathy Wurzor on Tuesday morning. The topic of the morning show was the Dakota War of 1862, with Friday being the anniversary of the first battle of the war. Specifically discussing Abraham Lincoln’s participation in the war, and discussing the government’s Indian policy, Nichols was brought on to shed more light on the subject. Together, Nichols and Wurznor talk about the war and that chapter in history.

Check out the show here!

August 16, 2012

Star Tribune Maps U.S.-Dakota War

Filed under: History, Native American — lucia.randle @ 10:46 am

Friday is the 150th anniversary of the first battle of the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. The Star Tribune offers  “Mapping the Dakota War,” a timeline chronicling events leading up to the war, providing background information, and highlighting key locations and their relevance to modern-day Minnesota. phpKQnFOU

Readers can learn about the war by scrolling through the timeline chronologically. Along with this collection of pictures and maps, the Star Tribune lists other sources of information, including Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862. For yet another perspective, pick up Lincoln and the Indians by David A. Nichols.

Online or in print, there are numerous ways to increase your understanding of these pivotal events in Minnesota’s history.

June 19, 2012

Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics

Filed under: Uncategorized — lucia.randle @ 2:32 pm

phpPzRHOgThe only thorough treatment of Lincoln’s Indian policy during the Civil War and the corrupt “Indian System” of government aid that mainly benefited ambitious whites.

Minnesota Public Radio Interview

“Lincoln and the Indians has stood the test of time and offers this generation of readers a valuable interpretation of the U.S. government’s Indian policies—and sometimes the lack thereof—during the Civil War era. Providing a critical perspective on Lincoln’s role, Nichols sets forth an especially incisive analysis of the trial of participants in the Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota and Lincoln’s role in sparing the lives of most of those who were convicted.” — James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom

“For the Dakota people, the Indian System started with the doctrine of discovery and continued through Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and beyond. The United States was bound to protect the rights of Indian parties. But in the end, the guilty were glorified and the laws for humanity disgraced. This book tells that story, and it should be required reading at all educational institutions.” —Sheldon Wolfchild, independent filmmaker, artist, and actor

“Undoubtedly the best book published on Indian affairs in the years of Lincoln’s presidency.” —American Historical Review

“Thoroughly researched and eloquently written, Lincoln and the Indians helps complete our picture of the Civil War and remains a must read for anyone interested in the contradictory story of freedom in nineteenth-century America.” —Paul Kelton, author of Epidemics and Enslavement: The Economic Origins of Biological Catastrophe in the Native Southeast, 1492-1715

“[Nichols] does a superb job of probing the multiple factors and the complex interrelationship of events that produced Lincoln’s Indian policy during the Civil War.” —American Indian Quarterly

“Provocative and original… Nichols has given us a valuable study of a wretched side of the Lincoln era.” — Journal of American History

David A. Nichols was vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Southwestern College in Kansas. He is a leading expert on the Eisenhower presidency, and his most recent book is Eisenhower 1956.

Available June 2012 from Minnesota Historical Society Press

Paperback, $16.95, 232 Pages  Amazon, Powells, or B&N

E-book, $9.99 MHS, Amazon, ibookstore, Nook, Kobo