Civil War Battles in North Dakota

/Civil War Battles in North Dakota
Civil War Battles in North Dakota 2015-04-04T22:59:33+00:00

All Civil War battles in North Dakota. They are in the order in which they occurred during the Civil War.

Civil War Battles in North Dakota

Civil War Battles in North Dakota


Big Mound

Civil War battles in North Dakota

Other Names: None

Location: Kidder County

Campaign: Operations against the Sioux in North Dakota (1863)

Date(s): July 24-25, 1863

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Henry Hastings Sibley [US]; Chief Inkpaduta [I]

Forces Engaged: District of Minnesota [US]; Santee and Teton Sioux [I]

Estimated Casualties: Total unknown (US unknown; I 13)

Description: Brig. Gen. Henry Hastings Sibley led his troops from Fort Ridgely, Minnesota, into the Dakotas, pursuing the Santee Sioux, who had initiated an uprising in the Minnesota River Valley in August 1862. The Santee had joined forces with the Teton Sioux. Having marched all day on July 24, 1863, Sibley’s scouts, around 1:00 pm, reported that they had spotted a large Native American camp a few miles away. Sibley established a camp on a nearby salt lake and set his men to entrenching it for protection. While in the process of making camp, numerous Native Americans appeared expressing friendship. A number of them approached the scouts gathered about 300-400 yards from the camp and began talking with them. Surgeon Josiah S. Weiser, 1st Regiment Minnesota Mounted Rangers, joined the assembly, but soon afterwards a Sioux shot and killed him.

The scouts attempted to kill the attacker but he escaped. Native Americans who had hidden behind the surrounding ridges now emerged and attacked. In detachments, the soldiers went out to meet the Native Americans. Sibley, with some men, approached the Big Mound on the opposite side of the ravine. He attempted to dislodge those Sioux who were on the upper part of the large ravine firing at the infantry and cavalry with impunity. The Union forces displaced these and other well-placed Sioux in the surrounding ridges by accurate artillery fire and forced them into the broken prairie where they fled in confusion. The mounted troops, with some of the infantry and artillery following, set out in pursuit. A running battle ensued for the rest of the day. Before dark, the soldiers broke off the pursuit and returned to camp as previously ordered, some not arriving until the next morning. The Sioux forces were broken and dispirited.

Result(s): Union victory


Dead Buffalo Lake

Civil War battles in North Dakota

Other Names: None

Location: Kidder County

Campaign: Operations against the Sioux in North Dakota (1863)

Date(s): July 26, 1863

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Henry Hastings Sibley [US]; Chief Inkpaduta [I]

Forces Engaged: District of Minnesota [US]; Santee and Teton Sioux [I]

Estimated Casualties: Unknown

Description: Following the Battle of Big Mound on July 24, 1863, Brig. Gen. Henry Hastings Sibley and his men moved their camp about four miles and then rested till the next day. The morning of the 26th they set out and after marching about 14 miles, found the Sioux ready for battle. At first, the fighting was long range because the Native Americans refrained from closing with the soldiers. The Native Americans did attempt to flank the left side of the camp and run off the mules. The Mounted Rangers and infantry, though, after heavy fighting, compelled the Native Americans to abandon their intentions. Following this setback, the Sioux retreated, ending the battle. Sibley resumed his march after the Native Americans the next day. The Sioux were on the run.

Result(s): Union victory


Stony Lake

Civil War battles in North Dakota

Other Names: None

Location: Burleigh County

Campaign: Operations against the Sioux in North Dakota (1863)

Date(s): July 28, 1863

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Henry Hastings Sibley [US]; Chief Inkpaduta [I]

Forces Engaged: District of Minnesota [US]; Santee and Teton Sioux [I]

Estimated Casualties: Unknown

Description: Following the Battle of Dead Buffalo Lake, Brig. Gen. Henry Hastings Sibley continued his march after the retreating Sioux until he reached Stony Lake, where his animals exhaustion compelled him to encamp. On the 28th, the force had started out in pursuit again when Sibley discovered that a large number of Sioux was moving upon him. He ordered the men to make defensive preparations, which many had already accomplished. In the face of enemy, Sibley now resumed his march. The Sioux searched for weak points in the soldiers position. Finding none, the Sioux rode off at great speed, preventing pursuit. The Sioux had hoped to halt Sibley’s advance but were unable to do so. Sibley remarked in his report that Stony Lake was the greatest conflict between our troops and the Indians, so far as the numbers were concerned.

Result(s): Union victory


Whitestone Hill

Civil War battles in North Dakota

Other Names: None

Location: Dickey County

Campaign: Operations against the Sioux in North Dakota (1863)

Date(s): September 3-5, 1863

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Alfred Sully [US]; Chief Inkpaduta [I]

Forces Engaged: Northwestern Expedition (600-700) [US]; Santee, Yankton, Cut-heads, Hunkapapa and Teton Sioux and Blackfeet (1,200-1,500) [I]

Estimated Casualties: 822 total (US 72; I 750)

Description: Following Brig. Gen. Henry Hastings Sibley’s victories over the Sioux, he left the area, crossing the James River. The Sioux then recrossed the Missouri River and returned to their old hunting grounds. Brig. Gen. Alfred Sully decided to find these Sioux and punish them, if possible. By September 3, Sully reached a lake where he found numerous remains of recently killed buffalo. A 6th Iowa Cavalry detachment discovered a Native American camp of more than 400 lodges, about 3:00 pm, which they endeavored to surround until a courier could inform Sully.

Word reached Sully around 4:00 pm, and he set out with the rest of the troops, except for the poorly mounted men who remained to protect the animals and supplies. About an hour later, Sully and his men arrived at the Sioux camp and observed that the Sioux were attempting to leave. Sully sent in his troops to help the 6th Iowa Cavalry. Although the Sioux did counterattack, it was to no avail. The Sioux eventually broke under the firepower and fled, hotly pursued. Fighting subsided after dark but scattered firing continued.

Sully ordered the bugler to sound rally, and all the troops remained at arms during the rest of the night. In the morning, Sully established a camp on the battlefield and, during the next two days, sent out scouting parties looking for remnants of the enemy. He also ordered the destruction of Native American foodstuffs, supplies, etc., found in the area. On September 5, one officer and 27 men from the 2nd Nebraska and 6th Iowa Cavalry regiments went in search of a surgeon and eight men missing since the battle on the 3rd. About 15 miles northwest of camp, they were attacked by a party of about 300 Sioux. The men could not stand up to this number of the enemy and began a slow retreat while returning fire. As the enemy came closer, the men panicked and stepped up their retirement despite entreaties from the officers. They eventually returned to camp and safety, after losing six men in the skirmish. Altogether, Sully’s men overran a large Sioux camp, destroyed much of the contents, killed or wounded a large number of men, and captured numerous women and children. This engagement weakened but did not destroy the Native American resistance in the area.

Result(s): Union victory


Killdeer Mountain

Civil War battles in North Dakota

Other Names: Tahkahokuty Mountain

Location: Dunn County

Campaign: Sully’s Expedition against the Sioux in Dakota Territory (1864)

Date(s): July 28-29, 1864

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Alfred Sully [US]; Chief Inkpaduta [I]

Forces Engaged: Detachments from eight units (2,200) [US]; Santee and Teton Sioux [I]

Estimated Casualties: Unknown

Description: Brig. Gen. Alfred Sully, who had defeated the recalcitrant Sioux at Whitestone Hill in September 1863, wintered on the Missouri River. During the winter, Sully’s superior, Maj. Gen. John Pope, formulated a plan for ending the difficulties with the Sioux. He would order a force of about 2,500 men, commanded by Sully, into the field to find the Native Americans and engage them in battle. In addition, he would send infantry behind Sully’s force to establish strong-posts in the Indian country. Thus, Minnesota troops were ordered to meet Sully’s force at the mouth of Burdache Creek on the Upper Missouri for active campaigning. The two columns rendezvoused on June 30 and set out against the Sioux. They established Fort Rice on July 7 at the mouth of Cannonball River and moved on.

The Sioux, who had been operating north of Fort Rice, moved across the Missouri River and took a strong position on the Little Missouri River, about 200 miles from the fort. On July 26, Sully marched out to engage them in battle. On the 28th, he arrived near the Native American camp which he reported included 5,000-6,000 warriors strongly posted in wooded country, very much cut up with high, rugged hills, and deep, impassible ravines. Sully met with some of the tribal chiefs first, but nothing came of it so he attacked. Heavy fighting ensued, but eventually the artillery and long-range firearms took effect and the Sioux began losing ground. The retirement turned into flight. The Native Americans left all their possessions, and a running fight of almost nine miles scattered the warriors who were not wounded or killed. Killdeer Mountain broke the back of the Sioux resistance. Sully did meet the remnants of the Sioux warriors that had escaped Killdeer Mountain in August and defeated them, but they had none of the spirit formally exhibited.

Result(s): Union victory

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