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SHSND Home > North Dakota History > Unit 3: Commerce Culture, and Conflict, 1800-1878 > Armed Conflict > Battle of Whitestone Hill > Memorial Gathering

Unit 3: Set 3. Armed Conflict - Whitestone Hill Memorial Gathering 1914

Introduction | Heart River Battle | Battle of Whitestone Hill | Activity

Battle Accounts: Sully | Kingsbury |Furnas | Thomson | Newspaper

Whitestone Hill Battlefield commemoration image

In September 1914, fifty-one years after the Battle of Whitestone Hill, the state commemorated its bloodiest battle with a gathering at the memorial. The newspaper account states what the official reports and earlier histories failed to note – that the battle was launched against Indians who had nothing to do with the Dakota War of 1862 and who were not preparing for war at all. Below is the newspaper account printed in the Bismarck Tribune on 9 September 1914.

newspaper article about Whitestone Hill Battle

Commemorate Whitestone
Five Thousand People
Attend Ceremony
Sunday
Indians Participate
Now Realized That Fight Was a
Mistake Due to Slander, Says
A. McGaffey Beede

Five thousand people gathered around the monument erected in memory of the Whitestone battle, August [sic] 3, 1863, to hear addresses by Indians and others last Sunday.  The Indians, three of whom participated in the battle, arrived Saturday and went out to the battlefield and correctly located the place where the Indians were surrounded by General Sully’s army, and escaped complete slaughter only by escaping in the night.  There has been much dispute about the correct location of this battlefield, but this visit of the Indians sets the matter at rest, by locating the battle one mile southeast of where it has been supposed to be.

Red Bow Speaks

Red Bow spoke first, giving an account of his experiences in the battle. He was followed by He-Takes-His-Shield who was a young man 18 years old when he was in the battle. And then Chief Red-fish told of his knowledge of the battle as he learned it from others, he being at the time up north with his people, the Cut-Head Sioux. Then Holy Horse, who was in the battle, stood up and showed himself, though he did not wish to speak in public. John S. Brown acted as interpreter, A. McG. Beede being witness of the correctness of the interpretation.

All a Mistake

It is now realized that this battle was all a mistake, and was unnecessary, as General Sully announced to the Indian prisoners whom he took alive. It is of little use now to ask who blundered. But the fact remains that a happy community of the Hunkpati River Sioux were suddenly attacked. They had never misused any white men, but they had red faces and black hair like the Santees who were provoked to battle in Minnesota by the unjustifiable abuse of certain white men, and then some of the more ferocious ones, together with some Chippewa half-bloods, had massacred many families in Minnesota. Hemmed in and fired upon, the Indians fought back with telling results, as the 60 killed and wounded soldiers show. The Indian loss in killed and wounded was about 400 and we now realize that it was all due to a mistake, as most wars are. Dr. A. McG. Beede made a telling address, setting forth the abuse of the Indians by white people in those times. Governor L. B. Hanna closed the exercises with a speech setting forth that if Indian affairs were handled by the several states where Indians are, we might even now hope to inspire the Indians with hope and a true desire for progress. All these present evidently agreed with Governor Hanna on this point, and felt that now, at last, the Indian ought to have just and humane treatment.

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