A bronze marker identifies this site, named for Dr. Samuel B. Sheardown, Regimental Surgeon of the 10th Minnesota Infantry, as the July 14, 1863, campsite of the Sibley expedition. Located three and one-half miles southeast of Valley City, the marker sits on the southern edge of a county road ditch.
Reveille sounded at 2:00 a.m. on July 14, and troops began moving out of the previous night’s camp, Camp Weiser, less than two hours later. In contrast to the intolerably hot days earlier, the weather was so cold that men riding horses and wagons wore overcoats all day long.
That day they marched eighteen miles toward Devils Lake, where Chief Little Crow’s band of Mdewakanton Santee Dakotas was reportedly residing. One diarist noted that although they were still eighty to one hundred miles from Devils Lake, precautions were still necessary. After leaving Camp Hayes on July 12, the troops had been instructed to dig rifle pits and other fortifications each night. Nerves were becoming strained as evidenced by an incident in which a night sentry accidentally fired his rifle and set off “many ridiculous demonstrations.”
The day’s march was considered very hard. One astute officer noted that they had passed over what was called “Bottineau’s Mountain,” not a rise which could be “measured by the eye” but, rather, the land rose in a “gradual ascent.”
Approximately one and one-half miles east of the Sheyenne River, Camp Sheardown was established on high ground overlooking the lush river bottom, scenery thought to be “most beautiful.” The soldiers’ appreciation of the Sheyenne Valley was enhanced when the “Company C boys killed a fine doe elk, the meat of which was very fine.”
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