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Group DescriptionJust before sunrise on Sept. 2, 1862, the sharp crack of a warning shot signaled the start of the Battle of Birch Coulee, one of the hardest fought battles of the U.S.-Dakota War. The Dakota kept U.S. soldiers under siege for 36 hours before a relief detachment arrived from Fort Ridgely.
Visitors to the site can walk a self-guided trail through recreated prairie and read about the battle from the perspectives of Joseph Anderson, a captain in the U.S. Army, and Wamditanka (Big Eagle), a Mdewakanton soldier. Sketches from soldier Albert Colgrave provide vivid battle details, and guideposts help pinpoint where the U.S. soldiers were camped and the positions the Dakota took while surrounding the U.S. soldiers. The nearby Fort Ridgely Historic Site features more about the U.S.-Dakota War, and the Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site has more on the history of the Dakota people and the causes of the war.
The site is open May through October from dawn until dusk daily. It is located three miles north of Morton, Minn., at the junction of Renville County Hwys. 2 and 18, one mile east of U.S. Highway 71.
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