This blog previously explored various aspects of the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War that was fought in the State of Minnesota.
Sarah Wakefield’s Contemporaneous Discussion of the War
A contemporary perspective on that war was offered 160 years ago by Sarah Wakefield, a 32-year old white wife of a medical doctor assigned to the Upper Sioux Agency at the time of the war and who along with her four-year old son and 20-month-old daughter were held captives by the Dakota for the war’s six-weeks duration.
After the war ended, she testified on behalf of the Dakota people in criminal proceedings and thought her testimony had saved a Dakota farmer named Chaska who had been especially helpful to her and the children. Subsequently she learned that this Indian named Chaska had been hanged on December 26, 1862, apparently mistaken for another Indian with the same name.
A year later in 1863 Wakefield published a book about this experience, “”Six Weeks in the Sioux Tepees.” There she insisted her captors had treated her and the children well. They had saved her from sexual assault and had placed them in hiding during the war’s most dangerous moments. The Indians also had provided her with a blanket when she was cold.
Her book also criticized Col. Henry Sibley’s delays in rescuing the captives as well as the U.S. inhumane policies that had prompted a militant faction of the starving Dakota to wage war. Wakefield’s words brought on a lot of criticism of her from U.S. soldiers and officials. But Wakefield said, “My object was to excite sympathy for the Indians and in so doing, the soldiers lost all respect for me, and abused me shamefully, but I’d rather have my own conscience than that of these persons who turned against their protectors, those that were so kind to them in that great time of peril.”
 See these posts to dwkcommentaries: The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 (Nov.3, 2012); White Settler’s Contemporaneous Reaction to the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 (Nov. 6, 2012); Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 (Nov. 9, 2012); The U.S.-Dakota War Remembered by Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church (Part I) (Nov. 18, 2012); The U.S.-Dakota War Remembered by Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church (Part II) (Nov. 25, 2012); The U.S.-Dakota War Remembered by Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church (Part III) (Nov. 29, 2012); Personal Reflections on the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 (Dec. 10, 2012); Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Hanging of the “Dakota 38” (Dec.26, 2012); Minneapolis and St. Paul Declare U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 “Genocide” (Jan. 12, 2013); President Abraham Lincoln’s Involvement in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 (May 21, 2013); U.S. Military Commission Trials of Dakota Indians After the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 (June 11, 2013); President Abraham Lincoln’s Involvement in the Military Commission’s Convictions and Sentences of the Dakota Indians (June 24, 2013).
 Brown, Sarah Wakefield’s 160-year-old account still illuminates our understanding of the U.S.-Dakota War, StarTribune (Feb. 11, 2023).