Any one who understands the Indian trading system, as sanctioned by the Indian Department at Washington, can fill up the balance of the picture those who do not, will never know any more about the origin of the Indian massacre than they do now.
On Monday morning the 18th of August, news of the Acton massacre reached Forest City, and in less than an hour A. C. Smith, J. B. Atkinson, Milton Gorton and, a few’ others accompanied by, Mrs. engaged with the inquest a band of eleven mounted Indians came in sight of the place where the people were assembled, whereupon a detail of our mounted men gave chase and, drove them off into Kandiyohi county. Subsequent developments rendered it certain that those Indians had no hand in the Acton tragedy, and in fact knew nothing about it at that time.
On Tuesday, news arrived of the outbreak on the Minnesota River and Mr. Smith prepared; A letter to Gov. Ramsey, demanding guns and ammunition, and of six or seven hundred people in Forest City, Jesse V. Branham sen., then 60 years of age, was the only one to volunteer and obligate himself to take it to the Governor in St. Paul, 100 miles in twenty-four hours.
Father Branham performed the service in nineteen hours on Wednesday, on horseback, riding the first nineteen miles bareback!
The following is a copy of the somewhat laconic letter of the Judge.
Forest City, Aug. 2Oth, 6 A. M. 1862,
His Exellency, Alexander Ramsey, Gov.
Governor, &c.-SIR—-In advance of the news from the Minnesota River, the Indians have opened on us in Meeker. It is war! A few propose to make a stand here. Send us, forthwith, some good guns, and ammunition to match.
A. C. Smith
On receiving this letter about 1 o’clock A. M. of the 21st, Governor Ramsey with a promptitude which has ever distinguished him in his official business, found Mr. Geo. C. Whitcomb in St. Paul (County Treasurer of Meeker County) and directed 75 stand of Springfield muskets with a suitable amount of fixed ammunition, to be placed in his charge, with transportation to Forest City, where he arrived about 11, A. M. of the 23d.
In the meantime about all the people had left Forest City and but few were known to be in the County.
On the morning of the arrival of these guns there were but thirteen men and three women on the townsite of Forest City, and nobody west of us. Their names are worth recording, for it was the decision of the little band at this point on the morning, of August 23d that saved all there was worth saving west of the Mississippi River.
Their names are A. C. Smith, J. B. Atkinson, T. C. Jewett, Milton Gorton, Geo. S. Sholes, sen, Thos. H. Skinner, James M. Harvey, Wm. Towler, Henry L. Smith, Thomas Grayson, Judson A Stanton, Hamlet Stevens, Sylvester Stevens, Mrs. Jewett, Mrs. Whitcomb and Mrs. Brown.
During the week previous one hundred and. seventy teams-mostly double, passed through For est City on their way “out to the Mississippi River”-averaging from five to twelve persons to a team, with such goods and chattels as could be hastily packed on the wagon for immediate use. Seventy two of these had left on the morning of the 22d, and before the arrival of the guns-the persons above named had .also discussed the propriety of vacating home and country, when Whitcomb have in sight over the hill by “Uncle Ikes” a bakers dozen of caps and stove pipe hats went up about as high as single arms could toss them.
Whitcomb passed through Hutchinson and find-ing the boys there about as destitue as we, allowed them to subtract 31 of the guns and a part of the ammunition from his ambulance, leaving us but 44 guns and 2000 rounds.
On Sunday the 24th, a military organization was effected and by the. next day over thirty had joined. and a portion were mounted, all comers were thereafter politely required to do military duty.
The following is a copy of the article of corn pact, viz.
“We the undersigned do solemnly swear to bear true allegiance to the United States and the State of Minnesota and the officers which may be elected or appointed over us, to the. best of our ability in accordance with Captains Commission issued to G. C. Whitcomb, by Col. H. H. Sibley bearing date August 20th, 1862, Mustered in, August 24th, 1862.