Battle of Lower Sioux Agency

The Battle of Lower Sioux Agency was the initial battle of the Dakota War of 1862 in August. After the initial conflict at Acton Township, Minnesota on August 17, in which five white settlers were killed, tensions were running high within the Lower Sioux tribe. The Sioux feared that the murders would bring about a reprisal from United States forces. Chiefs Shakopee and Red Middle Voice convened a council at Little Crow's village near the Lower Sioux Agency to discuss the situation. Although Little Crow was hesitant to go to war, because of the strength of United States troops, Little Crow was eventually convinced to lead a war to drive the settlers from the Minnesota River valley.

On the morning of August 18, a large party of painted and armed Sioux braves surrounded the buildings of the Lower Sioux Agency, a settlement populated by the Indian agent and various government personnel. The Sioux gave a signal and launched a surprise attack on the post. Agent Andrew Myrick escaped from the post storehouse through a second story window, but was killed before he could reach cover. His corpse was later found with grass stuffed in his mouth in retaliation for his remark, "Let them eat grass!" Other deaths included James W. Lynd, a clerk at the store; George W. Divoll; Fran├žois La Bathe; A.H. Wagner, the superintendent of farms; Dr. Philander P. Humphrey, the agency physician; and Philander Prescott, a fur trader. In all, twenty people were killed, ten people were captured, and 47 escaped. George H. Spencer was kept in captivity throughout the war and was later rescued at Camp Release. A 40-man relief party from Fort Ridgely came to provide support, but they were ineffective. In the following week, the Sioux attacked a number of isolated farms and killed many settlers, but they were unable to take Fort Ridgely or New Ulm despite sustained attacks.

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