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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fort Ridgely
Fort Ridgely in 1862
LocationNicollet County, south of Fairfax, Minnesota
Coordinates44°27′3″N 94°43′54″W / 44.45083°N 94.73167°W / 44.45083; -94.73167
Architectural styleunpallisaded frontier fort
NRHP reference No.70000304[1]
Added to NRHPDecember 02, 1970

Fort Ridgely was a small United States Army outpost (1853–1867) half of which was on the Dakota reservation in the Minnesota river valley. The site is located northwest of Mankato near Fairfax in Minnesota Territory. Built between 1853–1854, it was named for three officers named Ridgely who were killed in the Mexican–American War.[2] In 1854-55 Congress approved $10,000 for the clearing of timber on a military road from St Anthony Falls to Fort Ridgely. On July 22, 1856 Congress approved another $50,000 to build a wagon road from Fort Ridgely to South Pass, Nebraska Territory.[3] William H. Nobles was appointed superintendent of the road's construction. He encountered problems receiving disbursements to cover the basic labor costs incurred.

The fort played an important role in the Dakota War of 1862.[4] On August 18th Captain Marsh took most of the garrison to the Lower Sioux Agency upon receiving reports that the Agency had been attacked. Second Lt. Gere and some enlisted were on duty there. Marsh and his men came under attack when they stopped for water. The hostilities are known as the Battle of Redwood Ferry. The Battle of Fort Ridgely followed, in two engagements on August 20th and 22nd, between the B and C Companies 5th  Minnesota, civilian volunteers and refugees from the Minnesota River valley, and Dakota forces lead by Little Crow. Having artillery is credited as the determining factor in repulsing the attacks. Ordinance Sargent John Jones was the sole regular Army at the fort. He is largely credited the successful defense by training the infantrymen to be cannoniers. Three Companies of the 30th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment later transitioned Fort Ridgely enroute Fort Wadsworth(Sissiton) and the campaign against the Sioux.[5]

In it's time numerous units were assigned to the outpost. From the U.S. Army: Companies of the 2nd, 6th, and  10th as well as batteries of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th Artillery and I Co. 1st U.S. Volunteer Regiment.[6] Until 1859 the garrison was typically three companies of infantry 30-40 men each. That year the Army designated the fort as an artillery school and supplied the post with six pieces of various calibers: two M1841 6-pounder field guns, 12 pounder, M1841 mountain howitzer, 12 pound Napoleon, and M1841 24-pounder howitzer.[6] During the civil war Companies from Minnesota Volunteer Regiments served in place of the regular army. These included the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, and 10th regiments, 2nd Cavalry, 1st Mounted Rangers, Brackett's Cavalry and a battery from the 3rd light artillery.[6] The Army abandoned the fort in 1867 as the frontier moved west. Civilians occupied the vacant buildings and later dismantled them for the building materials.

Today the building foundations have been exposed by State archeologists. The Nicollet County Historical Society maintains the publicly owned portion of the site for the Minnesota Historical Society within Fort Ridgely State Park. The old commissary building (partially reconstructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s) now houses the Park's museum. Fort Ridgely was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, with much of the park added in 1989.

  • Fort Ridgely watercolor by Lt. Sulley 1855 [9]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ Upham, Warren (1920). Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance. Minnesota Historical Society. p. 373.
  3. ^ Fort Ridgely South Pass Road Act of March 1861, Report of the Secretary of Interior 1862, 37th Congress, 2nd session, House of Representatives Doc. No. 35, Library of Congress
  4. ^ "Park Info: Fort Ridgely State Park". Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Archived from the original on 28 November 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  5. ^ 30th Wisconsin Infantry, Wisconsin in the Civil War, Wisconsin Historical Society Historical essay, Charles E. Estabrook (1914), p.789-792 [1]
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j On Duty at Fort Ridgely, Minnesota 1853-67, Paul Hedren, South Dakota Historical Society Press, 1977, p.168-92, appendix [2]
  7. ^ Major General Maynadier, Cullum's Registry, Vol. 2, Bill Thayer, University of Chicago web site, April 2019, p. 452
  8. ^ Reminiscences of Little Crow, Minnesota Historical Society Collections, Dr. Asa Daniels, 1862,
  9. ^ Sully: Alfred, Fort Ridgely (1855, Minnesota). 021338.1955. Tulsa: Gilcrease Museum,[3]

Further reading

  • Barnes, Jeff. Forts of the Northern Plains: Guide to Historic Military Posts of the Plains Indian Wars. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2008.

External links

Media related to Fort Ridgely at Wikimedia Commons

Building remains at Fort Ridgely, Minnesota.
Building remains at Fort Ridgely, Minnesota.
This page was last edited on 27 November 2020, at 21:50
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