Q&A: What was the Leavenworth Rescue Expedition?

Q&A: What was the Leavenworth Rescue Expedition?

Leavenworth is a township located about 20 miles southwest of New Ulm along the Big Cottonwood River.  On August 19, 1862, eighteen men who had fled Leavenworth for the safety of New Ulm, decided to return to their township in an effort to rescue any neighbors or relatives left behind.  Finding dead settlers and wounded children, one of the wagons returned with the wounded to New Ulm.  They neared New Ulm while it was under attack and as they approached they were ambushed by Dakota soldiers.  Five of this party was killed before they managed to reach the barricaded center of the town.  The second wagon arrived around 4:30pm and was also ambushed.  Six of this party were killed, leaving only one survivor.  Unknown to the expedition, many of their neighbors and friends had already reached safety within the center of New Ulm.

The expedition was an unsuccessful rescue.  But it represents a heroic and unselfish act by settlers during the U.S. – Dakota War.  However, the expedition is rarely mentioned in historical accounts and is identified by a single historical marker.  For more on the Leavenworth Rescue Expedition, the defense of New Ulm, and the settlers involved, read, The Leavenworth Rescue Expedition Revisited by Gary Wiltscheck.

Historical Marker of the Leavenworth Rescue Expedition

The Leavenworth Rescue Expedition by Gary Wiltscheck

See this blog post on YouTube


Kremena Spengler, “They Rescued No One . . .,” The Journal, August 7, 2011, http://www.nujournal.com/page/content.detail/id/525339/They-rescued-no-one—.html?nav=5005


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