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Wood Lake

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Otherwise focused on military campaigns across the Confederacy in 1862, the U.S. government largely ignored the growing signs of frustration and dissatisfaction among the Indians in areas of white settlement and did little to quell the possibility of an outbreak of hostilities. Inside many of the tribal councils, there was much heated debate between factions for war and those opposed to hostile action. In Minnesota, the Lower Santee Sioux tribe’s democratically elected leader, Traveling Hail, refused to give approval to go to war, and the opposing hostile faction asked Little Crow to lead them. Cut Nose was selected as War Chief, and the war commenced; spreading throughout the settlements in the major portion of the Minnesota River Valley. On September 19, 1862, Col. Henry Hastings Sibley set out from Fort Ridgely, Minnesota with 1,400 volunteers to put down the uprising. As they neared Wood Lake on September 23rd, Sibley’s men escaped an ambush by 700 warriors under Little Crow and engaged them in a battle. Sibley’s force won the day inflicting heavy casualties on the Sioux. For this action, Sibley received a promotion to brigadier general. Wood Lake was the first decisive defeat of the Sioux since the uprising began.

Battle Facts

Result

Union Victory
Forces Engaged
2,369

Union

1,619

Other

750
Total Estimated Casualties

Union

41

Other

Unknown