On the 24th of August Capt. Strout was ordered to Forest City via Glencoe and Hutchinson but deeming Forest City the safest place, from his stand point, came up the Mississippi direct to the latter place, arriving on the eve of the 27th, and went into camp near the law office of Judge Smith.
From a casual conversation, Capt. Strout remarked that he was authorized to make a stand where he could do the most good and should stay at Forest City a week or ten days, if deemed necessary. On being informed during the evening that all the Indians then in the country were probably at Swede Grove about ten miles out, the Captain very suddenly came to the conclusion that Glencoe was a safer place for him, and therefore decamped at sun rise next morning for the latter place, 44 miles south-east, and where no Indians had, at that time, been seen. On this fact being reported to head quarters, Capt. Strout was immediately ordered to return to Forest City via Acton, which he attempted to do, and arrived and camped in Jones’ door yard in Acton on the eve. of September 2d, surrounded by timber and as was afterwards found out to his sorrow, two hundred and fifty Indians camped within two miles of him.
Learning of Capt. Strout’s movements by the arrival of a scout from Hutchinson (Thos. Chambers, Esq.,) and knowing that, at this particular time, a large force of Indians had suddenly appeared at Swede Grove, it was deemed advisable to intercept Strout, and divert his command to Forest City without going to Acton, and as this was deemed a pretty hazardous undertaking a volunteer, detail was invited, when J. V. Branham jr., Albert Sperry and Thomas Holmes immediately seated themselves in the saddle and just before sun set on the eve of the 2nd of September they started south through Rice City with the view of heading Capt. Strout on the Hutchinson and Acton road and inform him of the nest of hornets he was unconsciously running his men into the route of Capt. Strout was principally on the old Pembina and Henderson Indian trail, and on the arrival of our men at that point, sufficient signs were discovered to satisfy them that Strout had already passed, and the boys had nothing to do but follow up the trail, and they did so, and found Strout as above related, in Jones’ door yard, in one of the most dangerous positions that could possibly be taken, particularly with 250 savages in Swede Grove, two or three miles off, and no pickets set.
The balance of the story we give in the language of one of the three scouts.
About four miles out from Forest City they saw coming toward them a party of five mounted men and not being able to tell whether they were friends or foes they halted-one of the boys says: `well what do you think ?” That looks blueboys, but we won’t run from five Indians anyhow-the five halted-we advanced a few steps and we halted then the five advanced, and to our joy we discovered John S. Shields and four others returning from Rice City, where they had been looking after crops and not aware of the close proximity of Indians.
Feeling greatly relieved we bade the boys good-by, after fully posting them up in regard to the operations of the Indians.
On our way to Acton we passed across the prairie East of Round Lake and West of Minnebelle, with darkness well settled upon us. We necessarily avoided all the groves of timber, not knowing what minute we would be sent to our long home by a friendly missile from the gun of the red gentlemen.
On they went until reaching the old Red River and Henderson trail (so called), when they com menced to search for the tracks of Capt. Strout and his company-of which they found no evidence until reaching the outlet of the lake near Even son’s when they halted and got down on their knees (for once in their lives) to look for tracks. Here they discovered tracks sufficient to -fully satisfy them that Strout’s company had passed as above related on their way to Acton. On they go, in darkness doubly dark, with nothing to change the midnight silence until they reached the edge of the timber and the cabin where, on the 17th ult., poor Jones and the Baker family met their fate without a moment’s notice.
On reaching the timber the darkness, which was total before, became a great deal more so, and only for our faithful horses the party would have been unable to keep the road, and right here two dogs sprang out with a howl that would have startled men in ordinary times but at that time and under the circumstances narrated, hair had to be well rooted to hang to the scalp.
After a silent ride of half a mile to where Strout was camped, with thoughts flitting from the loved ones in Minneapolis, to the anticipated danger that hovered over us, we came close up to the tents –but what do they contain ? Friend or foe? no picket cried “halt!”
So we says “Tom. let us halt and sing out to them.” Says Tom. “agreed.” So we sang. out “Who’s there? Friend come up.’ When we halted we could have struck the tents with a stone, and no picket interposed.
People may say what they please, but if there is any period in man’s existence, in which the heart will voluntarily and uncalled for, go up to God in thankfulness for a safe deliverance, it will be under circumstances in which that little band of three had been placed between sundown and midnight during the travel of twenty miles.