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Whitestone Skirmish


The Battle of Whitestone Hill was the bloodiest attack by whites in Dakota Territory. Up to 300 Sioux were killed and over 150 were captured. The soldiers destroyed the Sioux’s property as well, leaving them almost entirely unprepared for winter without food or shelter. General Alfred Sully’s expedition meant to punish the Sioux responsible for murders in Minnesota but the ones he encountered here were Ihunktonwan (ee-HOOnK-tooN-wahN) or Yankton Sioux, mostly not involved in those killings.

The fighting wasn’t over. After the battle, a small scouting party of 27 men from two cavalries under Lieutenant Charles W. Hall went in searching of several missing men on this day in 1863. Among them were a surgeon and a sergeant. Eight more men were missing from Second Nebraska Cavalry. These men had been part of a party bringing ambulances to the wounded white men. Hall’s party moved northeast from Whitestone Hill in search of them. About fifteen miles in, they encountered a group of 300 Sioux.

Hall’s party began to retreat while both side exchanged fire. Some of Hall’s men began to retreat faster than they were ordered as Sioux fire flew closer and quicker. Hall wasn’t able to halt the Sioux who tried to cut off his retreat but he reported his men killed six of their enemy and four of their horses. The natives pursued Hall’s party to within four miles of the Army’s camp, near today’s Merricourt and Monango, North Dakota. Hall lost six men and four horses before his group returned to the camp by midnight.

He didn’t find the missing men but they returned to camp shortly after his party came back from the sequel skirmish to the Battle of Whitestone Hill. Before returning to Fort Pierre in today’s South Dakota, Sully’s men hastily buried and burned many Sioux fallen. Many families were separated as parents and children were fired upon or taken prisoner. Most of the Sioux that Sully’s men descended upon had nothing to do with the murders of Minnesota settlers that Sully sought to avenge.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


Clodfelter, M. (1998). The dakota war: The united states army versus the Sioux, 1862-1865. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Publishers.

Scott, R.N., Lazelle, H.M., Davis, G.B., & Perry, L.J.(1902). The war of the rebellion: A compilation of official records of the union and confederate armies. Washington, DC: United States War Department.

"http://www.history.nd.gov/historicsites/whitestone/" http://www.history.nd.gov/historicsites/whitestone/