Q&A: What was the Battle of Acton?

Q&A: What was the Battle of Acton?

On September 3, 1862, while the soldiers were being attacked at Birch Coulee, there was another battle.  This was the Battle of Acton and it is probably the least well-known and studied battle of the U.S. – Dakota War.

While Colonel Sibley’s forces of about 1600 soldiers had been sent to Fort Ridgely, a much smaller force of about 65 men led by Captain Richard Strout had been sent to Glencoe and Forest City.  The goal of Captain Strout and his men was to “protect settlers from Dakota attacks.”  While patrolling the area on September 2, they camped near the town of Acton.  That night three messengers had been sent from the Forest City Home Guard, warning Captain Strout of a large force of Dakota Indians.  This was Little Crow and about 150 to 200 Dakota warriors.

Captain Richard Strout, MNHS Collections

On the morning of September 3, Captain Strout and his men, guided by the messengers, left for Hutchinson where they would find protection in the stockade.  About two miles into their travels, the Dakota forces sprang from the tall grass and ambushed them.  Being outnumbered, having little military experience, and being low on ammunition, Strout’s men made a bayonet charge in order to open an alley where they could retreat.  The tactic worked and the men began running south toward Hutchinson.  Constantly under fire, the men had to fire and reload all while running.  As the men became wounded they jumped into the wagons, but had to begin jettisoning supplies.  The Dakota stopped to pick up the supplies which helped the soldiers maintain their distance from the enemy.

After a two hour battle that stretched over eight miles, the men reached the safety of the Hutchinson stockade.  Captain Strout lost 3 killed, 18-24 wounded, 9 horses, 2 wagons and all their supplies.  3 more men later died of their wounds.  Dakota losses are unknown.

Read the brief report from the battle – page 211-212

See this blog post on YouTube

Source:

Darryl Sannes, “The U.S. – Dakota War of 1862 and the Battle of Acton,” 150 Minnesota Civil War, http://mncivilwar150.com/the-u-s-dakota-war-of-1862-and-the-battle-of-acton-by-darryl-sannes/

 

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