Disclaimer: This story contains graphic and/or offensive language that may not be suitable for children.
This letter was written by my great grandfather, George Rieke to his brother, William, who still lived in Ohio at the time, coming to MN in 1864. The original was in German.
October 5, 1862
Dear Brother William:
Your letter of the 20th of September was received on October 1st, with 5 dollars gold enclosed. We notice that you are greatly concerned about us. There was no necessity for the money. We still have some and we have 173 dollars coming from the Government which we are supposed to receive in a few days for hay [contracted for by the Government]. Thank God, we are all reasonably well. Henry would not have died as yet if it had not been for the battle. He believed, when he saw someone fall at our cannon, that it was one of us. He was, to be sure, somewhat ill, but he had still worked the week before. He was just as tall as I am. He is buried at the Fort, but we expect to remove the body at an early date. Aside from this, none of the rest of us was injured.
At this time we are all at home again. We were at the Fort just one month. Frederick fled to St. Peter. The Indians did not burn any of our property. We still have our wheat, rye, and barley. We had not yet stacked our oats and buckwheat. Our beds, tables, chairs, and stove, twenty-two head of cattle, six pigs, five chickens, and a few cooking utensils we saved. The Indians took with them or destroyed our best and worthiest clothes, bed clothes, shirts, towels, sacks, the clock, mirror, razors, pewter ware, porcelain ware, knives and forks, Mother's sewing box, Victor's tobacco box, one bull, 5 pigs, 50 hens, 11 ducks, our trunk and nearly all small things. The bull was shot near the Fort. Victor has kept his carpenter tools, and the wagon, plow, harrow, and hay equipment we still have; and when the army came to the Fort the soldiers took whatever the Indians left behind. They took our hay and one hundred bushels of potatoes, and our onions. We made hay for ourselves again. They say everything will be paid for. That they can easily do as the Government had to pay 90,000 dollars to the Indians every year. The 90,000 dollars for this year was the the Fort. That was a barrel of money that would take three men to handle. We can figure that altogether we have lost 300 dollars worth [of our property]. Many of our neighbors have lost considerable more, and how many have been murdered, of that we have no idea yet; there must be over one thousand. In the country around New Ulm they are still burying dead almost daily. Near where Mr Spellbrink lives, they are nearly all murdered. He and his family were saved. From those living above the Fort, only four families were rescued. Many families were entirely annihilated. The Indians took away many women. Many people hid themselves, but most of them were killed. The whole county of Renville (that's its name) is gone, many of our acquaintances. Our nearest neighbor [meant is John Buehro] was shot near the Fort. He together with an older man, both former soldiers, took a wagon on Wednesday morning, the day on which the afternoon battle accurred, to go home and get bedding and other things, and were already close to the Fort when they were shot. The other one who was with him had run back a short distance. He was found and a dead Indian close by and a revolver between the two. It can hardly be described how horribly people were killed. Children were taken out of their cradles and hung up by their feet. The hands of some of the men were first chopped off, the chest slashed open and the heart ripped from the body. Enough said of these atrocities. The soldiers are now in pursuit of them, and they are moving ever more westward. We have been told that 500 Indians have been captured and also that fifty white women and children have been taken from the Indians. More than probable William Lammers's wife and children are among them. Our former governor is the commander.
[The remaining portion of the letter, surely no more than a page or two, was reportedly lost in a tornado]