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Battlefield gains national designation

GRANITE FALLS -- The land where warriors and soldiers fought the final battle of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 will be recognized as a national historic site.

Wood Lake Battlefield has been approved to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Tom Hosier, founder of the Wood Lake Battlefield Preservation Association announced Sept. 25 at the organization's fifth annual symposium in Granite Falls.

The designation is an important step toward the group's goal of preserving the site as a na-tional battlefield.

It's one of only two Civil War-era battlefield sites recommended by the National Park Service for consideration for designation in Minnesota. The other is Fort Ridgely, where Union soldiers and Dakota warriors also fought.

The eligibility to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places was made possible by research completed for the Association by Dr. Michelle Terrell, an archaeologist and historian and founder of Two Pines Resource Group of Shafer.

Terrell examined the battlefield site for artifacts and researched the historical record to confirm that the area in eastern Yellow Medicine County is where the violent conflict had taken place.

The state of Minnesota erected a monument near the battlefield in 1910. It is located where Col. Henry Sibley and his 1,619 troops camped.

Chief Little Crow and an estimated 700 Dakota warriors were planning to ambush Sibley and his men.

The ambush was thwarted when a group of soldiers left camp to raid nearby gardens and drew fire.

The Wood Lake Battlefield Association has an easement to protect a 64-acre portion of the battlefield area.

The easement will prevent development from occurring on the crop and pasture land.

Hosier said the hope is to preserve the integrity of the site and to remember those who fought on both sides during the war and gave their lives.

The long-term goal of the group is to see trails developed and more of the original battlefield area protected for future generations to learn about the history that occurred there.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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