Just before sunrise on Sept. 2, 1862, a warning shot signaled the start of the Battle of Birch Coulee, one of the hardest fought battles of the U.S.-Dakota War.
The battle of Birch Coulee was fought on Sept. 2 and 3, 1862. On Sept. 1, a detail of 160 to 170 soldiers and civilians was dispatched from Fort Ridgely to bury the remains of settlers who had been killed in the early weeks of the U.S.-Dakota War. At the end of their first day, they selected an open piece of ground near Birch Coulee Creek for camp. During the night, Dakota men surrounded the camp and then attacked at dawn. Badly outnumbered and highly exposed, the detail was under siege for nearly 36 hours. A detachment of soldiers from Fort Ridgely arrived at the battle site in the afternoon of Sept. 3 and lifted the siege. The original detachment suffered severe casualties, with 13 men killed, 47 wounded and 90 horses dead. A nearby marker relates to the Battle of Birch Coulee and bears the names of the men dispatched in the original burial detail.
Resources for Further Investigation
U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 website