« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Clarence Holm, Delano, Minn., Published September 08 2012

Letter: Personal history of Dakota war

Regarding The Forum’s Aug. 30 story on the Indian wars:

My grandmother’s 18-year-old granduncle, Johann Melchior Wahl, arrived in Baltimore from Württemberg, Germany, in 1862. Less than three months after his arrival to the farm in Carver County, Minn., the first attack on the unsuspecting farmers in Acton, Meeker County, Minn., signaled the start of the Dakota Indian War. Within days, Melchior had enlisted and was marched to Hutchinson, Minn., along with other area farmers, to defend his new countrymen.

During his time as a soldier, he not only participated in notable battles with the Dakota, he also served as a witness to the hanging of the 38 Indians at Mankato. Later he spent time on post at Fort Abercrombie, Dakota Territory.

Before Melchior could be released from service, his Company H of the 9th Minnesota was called to action in the Civil War, and he was dispatched to Mississippi in the spring of 1864. After a long march with little in the way of provisions, he took part in the action at Brice’s Crossroads. Due to the Confederates superior knowledge of the terrain and the Southern soldiers fighting while being well-rested and well-fed, the Union Army was defeated. The weeklong retreat over the wet and muddy roads, combined with the lack of provisions and poor hygiene, was too much for him, and he died in a Memphis hospital on July 24, 1864, of dysentery.

Melchior was buried in Memphis, not more than 30 feet away from yet another of my Carver County great-granduncles, who had also died of disease while serving in the Union Army in Memphis.

The records of their existence during the war was detailed in Army records and muster rolls.