HANGING OF THE MINNESOTA INDIANS.
The following is an account of the recent execution of the Indians at Mankato. It is taken from the St. Paul Press of the 28th ult.:
At half-past seven all persons were excluded from the room; except those necessary to prepare the prisoners for their doom. Under the superintendence of Major Brown and Captain Redfield, their irons were knocked off, and one by one were tied by cords, their elbows being pinioned behind and the wrists in front, but about six inches apart. This operation occupied till about nine o'clock. In the meantime the scene was much enlivened by their songs and conversation, keeping up the most cheerful appearance. As they were being pinioned, they went round the room shaking hands with the soldiers and reporters, bidding them "good-bye," &c. White Dog requested not to be tied, and said he could keep his hands down; but of course his request could not be complied with. He said that Little Crow, Big Six and Young Eagle's brother got them into this war, and now he and others are to die for it. After all were properly fasteded, they stood up in a row around the room, and another exciting death song was sung. They then sat down very quietly and commenced smoking again. Father Ravous came in and after addressing them a few moments, knelt in prayer, reading from a prayer book in the Dakota language, which a portion of the condemned repeated after him. During this ceremony, nearly all paid the most strict attention, and several were affected even to tears. He then addressed them again, first in Dakota, then in French, which was interpreted by Baptiste Capbell, one of the condemned half breeds.
The caps were then put on their heads. — These were made of white muslin taken from the Indians when their camps were captured, and which had formed part of the spoils they had taken from the murdered traders. They were made long and looked like a meal sack, but being rolled up only came down to the forehead, and allowed their painted faces yet to be seen.
They received these evidences of their near approach to death with evident dislike. When it had been adjudsted on one or two, they looked around on the others with an appearance of shame. Chains and cords had not moved them — their wear was not considered dishonorable — but this covering of the head with a white cap, was humiliating. There was no more singing, and but little conversation and smoking now. All sat around the room; most of them in a crouched position, awaiting their doom in silence, or listening to the remarks of Father Ravoux, who still addressed them. Once in a while their small looking glasses before their faces to see that their faces yet preserved the proper modicum of paint. The three half-breeds were the most of all affected, and their dejection of countenance was truly pitiful to behold.
At precisely 10 o'clock the condemned were marshaled in a procession, and headed by Capt. Redfield, marched out into the street and directly across through files to the scaffold, which had been erected in front, and were delivered to the officer of the day, Capt. Burt. They went eagerly and cheerfully, even crowding and jostling each other to be ahead, just like a lot of hungry boarders rushing to dinner in a hotel. The soldiers who were on guard in their quarters stacked arms and followed them, and they in turn were followed by the clergy, reporters, &c.
As they commenced the ascent of the scaffold, the death song was again started, and when they had all got up, the noise they made was truly hideous. It seemed as if pandemonium had broken loose. It had a wonderful effect in keeping up their courage. One young fellow, who had been given a cigar by one of the reporters, just before marching from their quarters, was smoking it on the the stand, puffing away very coolly during the intervals of the hideous, "Hi-yi-yi," "Hi-yi-yi," and even after the cap was drawn over his face, he manged, to get it up over his mouth and smoke. Another was smoking his pipe. The noose having been promptly adjusted over the necks of each by Capt. Libby, I was ready for the fatal signal.
The scene at this juncture was one of awful interest. A painful and breathless suspense held the vast crowd which had assembled from all quarters to witness the execution.
Three slow, measured and distinct beats on the drum by Major Brown, who had been announced as signal officer, and the rope was cut by Mr. Duly — the scaffold fell, and thirty-seven lifeless bodies were left dangling between heaven and earth. One of the ropes was broken, and the body of Rattling Runner fell to the ground. The neck had probably been broken, as but little signs of life was observed, but he was immediately hung up again. While the signal beat was being given, numbers were seen to clasp the hands of their neighbors, which in several instances continued to be clasped till the bodies were cut down.
As the platform fell, there was one, not loud, but prolonged cheer from the soldiery and citizens who were spectators, and then all were quiet and earnest witnesses of the scene. For so many, there was but little suffering; the necks of all, or nearly all, were evidently dislocated by the fall, and the after struggle was slight. The scaffold fell at a quarter past ten o'clock, and in twenty minutes the bodies had all been examined by Surgeons Le Boutillier, Sheardown, Finch Clark and others, and life pronounced extinct.
The bodies were then cut down, placed in four army wagons and attended by company K, as a burial party, and under the command of Lieut. Col. Marshall, were taken to the grave prepared for them among the willows on the sand bar nearly in front of the town. They were all deposited in one grave, thirty feet in length by twelve in width, and four feet deep, being laid on the bottom in two rows, with their feet together and their heads to the outside. They were simply covered with their blankets, and the earth thrown over them.
For the execution of so many persons at the same instant were most perfect, and great credit is due Colonel Miller for devising and carrying out so successfully, his well digested plan. Neither can too much credit be given to Captain Burt, the officer of the day, Lieut. Col. Marshall, Major Brown, and Capt. Redfield, the Provost Marshal.