Horrors of War

Families of mixed-blood were also caught up in the horrors of war.

Elizabeth and Minnie were gone! My heart turned to stone. How frightened they must be! I must find them!

Up and down the river bank I ran but no trace of them could I find. Perhaps friendly Indians from the Agency had taken them to their lodge. Up the bluff I crawled through the brush and trees. Duta caught my scent and came bounding to me leaping and barking with joy. “Oh,” I thought, “the Indians will hear him and find me. Then they will kill me and Elizabeth and Minnie will have no one to save them.”

I was forced to do the cruelest task of my life. I slipped off my belt and pulled it tight around Duta’s neck. Tears ran from my eyes as I felt him struggle for breath. Finally he was dead. I knelt down, took his head in my lap and whispered, “Forgive me Duta, forgive me.”

I searched for hours. Our cabin was gone. Smoke still came from its ashes. Other buildings at the Agency were burned.
Joseph Coursolle, or Joe Gabbro, or Hinhankaga, meaning The Owl (1833 - 1893). The blacksmith at Redwood Agency, Coursolle was re-united with his 4 and 6 year old daughters on September 21, 1862.

Read more accounts of the conflict in: Gary Clayton Anderson & Alan R. Woolworth, ed., Through Dakota Eyes, Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862, (St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1986)