- 03 Aug 2020 14:03
August 4, Monday
Though the US government is oblivious, things are heating up in Minnesota. The Eastern, or Santee, Sioux had roamed the great game-filled forests and prairies of Minnesota for centuries. But in 1851 the government forced them to cede their ancestral villages and hunting grounds—24 million acres in all—and move onto a narrow strip of land 20 miles wide that extends for 150 miles along both sides of the upper Minnesota River. In return, the Santee, who were expected to settle down and become farmers, were promised annuities in the form of cash and provisions. Almost immediately the government’s graft-ridden system of managing Amerind affairs gave the Santee cause for resentment. In the following years, the traders diverted money promised the Santee into their own pockets to settle debts that the traders claimed—often falsely—the Sioux owed them. Treaty goods and provisions sent to the Amerinds frequently turned out to be shoddy or rotten, or were stolen by traders and other unscrupulous Whites. Even the well-meaning missionaries who established churches on the reservation caused trouble. Santees who clung to their old beliefs and customs despised those Sioux who accepted Christianity, became farmers, and adopted the Whites’ clothing, haircuts, and frame houses. Then in 1858 the settlers flooding into the area induced the government to invite Little Crow, the most influential Santee spokesman, and several other chiefs to Washington, where they were browbeaten into giving up half of the already cramped reservation. The chiefs were promised $266,880 ($8,574,573 in 2020 dollars) for 889,600 acres, but the bulk of the money appropriated by Congress went to the traders.
Frustrated and angry, the Sioux are nevertheless held in check by Little Crow and the other chiefs. Little Crow is the hereditary chief of only one of the villages, but he possesses oratorical power that has won him disproportionate influence over his people. Recognizing the power of the Whites, he has professed warm friendship for them, cut his hair to shoulder length, and lives in a two-story frame house. Although not a Christian, he often attends services. But even Little Crow is losing his patience this summer, thanks to a newly appointed government agent, Thomas J. Galbraith, who appears determined to starve his people. Most of the Amerinds’ crops failed last year, and many of their villages are in dire straits. Despite the crisis, Galbraith announced that the annual distribution of government provisions and annuities, scheduled for June, would be delayed. Congress, debating whether to make Amerind payments this year in gold or the new wartime greenbacks, has held up delivery of $71,000 due the Santee. To simplify his bookkeeping, Galbraith has decided to keep the provisions locked up in his warehouses until the money arrives and then distribute everything at once.
Now, seething with resentment, some of the famished Amerinds storm the warehouse at the more northerly of the two government posts, the Upper Agency, looting sacks of flour. Order is restored only when the commander of the infantry detachment overseeing the distribution persuades the stubborn Galbraith to issue some provisions and annuity goods. Little Crow, present at the altercation, asks Galbraith to make a similar preliminary distribution to the half-starved Amerinds of the Lower Agency. Galbraith agrees, but will go back on his word.
President Lincoln orders a draft of 300,000 militia to serve for nine months, unless discharged sooner. This draft will never be put into effect. The President also orders the military to get rid of incompetent persons holding commissions, and to promote worthy officers.
Burnside’s Federal corps from North Carolina arrives at Aquia Creek to assist Pope in defending against Lee’s advance into northern Virginia.
In New Orleans General Benjamin F. Butler, commanding the Federal occupation forces, issues an order assessing “secessionists” a total of $341,916 to provide for the poor of the city.
There is skirmishing at Gayoso and on White River, near Forsyth, Missouri. Other operations include a Federal reconnaissance from Coggins’ Point beyond Sycamore Church, Virginia, August 4-5; an attack by Confederates on Union pickets near Woodville, and a Union reconnaissance from Woodville to Guntersville, Alabama, August 4-7; an expedition of Confederate General Jeb Stuart from Hanover Court House to near Fredericksburg, Virginia, 4-8; a Union scout on Sinking Creek, Missouri, August 4-11; a Federal expedition from Helena to Clarendon, Arkansas, August 4-17.
In New Mexico Territory additional units of the California Column reach Mesilla on the Rio Grande, removing any slim possibility that remained of Texas making another attempt on capturing the territory.
Lincoln tells a delegation of “Western gentlemen” who offer two Black regiments from Indiana that he is not prepared to enlist Blacks as soldiers, although he suggests employing them as laborers.
Ideas are far more powerful than guns. We don’t allow our enemies to have guns, why should we allow them to have ideas?
To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.