the story of white cap
Escape from America

New Ulm, MN, Site of Massacre of Whites, 1862
On two days in August, 1862, some 650 Sioux warriors attacked the town of New Ulm, Minnesota, - above in 1870, eight years after the attack - where some 1,500 Whites had barricaded themsleves in the centre of town. After the second attack, the inhabitants fled in a huge wagon train for a fort some 30 miles away. The Sioux burned New Ulm to the ground.

Chief Little Crow (above) photographed some years before the massacre, reputedly owned the tomahawk (below) which recently received 34 bids and finally sold on ebay for $3,800 US. Its provenance is very strong, that the weapon was taken from Little Crow when he was captured. He is reputed to having killed 13 prisoners with it during the New Ulm massacre; what is reputed to be blood, remains thick on the business end of the axe, and has stained the handle.

When the US army arrived, Little Crow and his group fled to the Red River Colony, at Fort Garry, across the border in Canada. He stayed a few months then raided back into Minnesota.

He was shot by white hunters as he was rumaging for food in a berry patch; they didn't know it was him. They thought they were just killing ordinary Indians.

His body was taken back to Hutchinson, MN, and reportedly scalped by the whites in revenge.

For years his skeleton hung in a museum as a "neat item".

His family finally succeeded in having it returned to them - but it was not till 1971 that they could finally get possession of his bones and bury him properly.



The Story of White Cap: White Cap was chief of a group of American Dakota Santee Sioux who had fled to Canada for safety during the bloody wars between Whites and Indians, in Minnsesota, in 1862.

From time immemorial, the Dakota Sioux had roamed over thousands of miles of open prairie in the north central part of the United States. Then, in the middle of the 19th century, came the white miners, and the settlers, to elbow the Indians out of the way, using the guns of the United States Army to support them. The homelands and traditional rights of the Dakota Sioux shrank rapidly under the onslaught of White immigrants.

In 1862 White Cap's tribe was part of a Sioux uprising in Minnesota.

Racial tensions exploded in Minnesota, when a couple of young Indian hotheads shot a few settlers at a remote farm.

A Sioux Chief, Little Crow, knowing the repercussians that would follow, led a pre-emptive Indian uprising. Over a period of four weeks, as many as 800 Whites were killed, as well as 60 Sioux. Until Sept. 11, 2001, it was the largest loss of civilian life during a war, in American history.

The US Army, and winter starvation, ended the rebellion in a few weeks.

White Cap and Little Crow fled, north to Canada, taking their tribe to Fort Garry, thereby escaping the largest mass hanging in US history, at Mankato, MN, when 38 Sioux warriors were hanged in a group for their part in the rebellion.

The occasion was commemorated in this fabulous serving tin made by a local brewery.

Little Crow, and White Cap, and their tribesmen, camped outside Fort Garry, afraid to return home.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Fort Garry, 1869 (detail)
Orig. oil on board - Image size - 12" x 18"
Found - Palgrave, ON
Signed & dated, LM Stephenson, Fort Garry 1869
Fort Garry - today downtown Winnipeg, the capital of Maniboba - as it looked when White Cap and his band arrived, hoping to find a safe haven for his people. Not so safe, actually.

Only seven years later the "locals" mostly Métis under the same pressure from an encroaching White Government - this time from Ottawa - that White Cap had seen erupt into bloodshed in Minnesoata, flared up into rebellion, at Fort Garry.

This time Canadian soldiers arrived. There would be no killing and no hanging this time. In fact it was quite a lark for most of the soldiers. They all wanted souvenirs.

And there to give them what they wanted was LM Stephenson who painted this same exact scene a hundred times or more for them to take back to Ontario, so the folks back east could all see what the "wild west" in Canada looked like.

Two early 19th century souvenir cups feature the Indian Massacre Monuments erected in New Ulm and Jackson, Minnesota, on behalf of the white victims.





White Cap moved to Saskatchewan. Neither he nor his people wanted any part of violence. When the Riel Rebellion broke out they refused all entreaties to join the rebels in their fight against the Government troops.

In the end White Cap was left little choice. He was forced to come "on side." When the battles were lost, White Cap and his people fled. They knew very well what vengeful white soldiers would do to Indians. Mankato was on their minds.

Two of the lithos deal with the capture of White Cap and his people.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
The Late Capt. French Prevailing on Three of White Cap's Warriors to Surrender
Orig. lithograph - Image size - 7.5" x 9.5"
Found - Cooksville, ON
Hand-coloured, Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News Souvenir Number, Pub. Toronto Lithographing Co. 1885
The loneliness of the prairie, the loneliness of a "last stand," and the loneliness of a way of life disappearing, is wonderfully captured in this litho. It's also a fine souvenir of Capt. French showing his leadership skills. They were to cost him his life at Batoche.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
The Capture of White Cap and his Band by the Governor-General's Body Guard
Orig. lithograph - Image size - 7.5" x 9.5"
Found - Cooksville, ON
Hand-coloured, Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News Souvenir Number, Pub. Toronto Lithographing Co. 1885














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