Mendota and the Restive Rivers of the Indian and Civil Wars 1861-65

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The saga of a midwestern family that has to overcome the hardships of the American Civil war as well as the Dakota uprising which threatens their home and lives.

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Author:Dane Krogman

This is the fictional story set in Mendota, Minnesota of the Simmons family who are faced with the consequences of the Dakota Sioux Uprising of 1862 that swept across the state as well as the Civil War.

The father, Dan enlists in the 1st regiment of Minnesota volunteers as a teamster. His two sons, who are both underage join the 2nd Regiment. John, aged 16 becomes a bugler and William, aged 15 becomes a drummer. Their sister, Sara is left behind with their mother, Louise to fend for themselves. Dan is sent east to fight with the Army of the Potomac while his sons are sent to the western theater to serve in the army of the Cumberland. Back in Mendota, their neighbor and close friend, Colonel Henry Sibley is ordered to stay in the state to control the Indian uprising.

Dan will see action up through the battle of Antietam. He will later find himself in the hospital in Washington DC where he befriends a comrade also from the 1st Regiment. His sons barely miss the action at Shiloh but after, are engaged in all the major battles in the West. While they are passing through Louisville, William falls for a young woman, Mary who works as a hospital nurse. Back in Mendota, Sara befriends a young Chippewa native boy while her mother struggles with the breakup of her family. After Colonel Sibley defeats the Sioux, he is promoted to General and ordered to round up all the Dakota and push resettle them in the Dakotas.

This leads to the punitive expeditions that he and General Sully will command up until 1864. William is captured at the battle up Missionary Ridge and then sent to the prison camp at Belle Isle, VA. and then onto Andersonville. GA. John receives a 30 day furlough and returns to Mendota before he re-enlists. Louise and Sara wait for the war’s end so the family can be reunited, but events may not turn out as anticipated.

1 review for Mendota and the Restive Rivers of the Indian and Civil Wars 1861-65

  1. A Thousand Suns

    Have you ever seen a history documentary where the historian tells you what happened and then there is a reenactment depicting what the historians just spoke about? I love these types of documentaries and strangely that is exactly how this book read. I have never read a book using this approach before but it worked really well. It felt like I was being given a history lesson while reading a very compelling story at the same time.

    Mendota and the Restive Rivers of the Indian and Civil Wars 1861-65 follow the fortunes and the misfortunes of the Simmons family. Through their eyes, we witness the horror of the American Civil War and the Dakota Sioux uprising. Dan, the head of the household, is a likeable character. His journey brought home the realities of what life was like during this era in history. Life was hard for a soldier, so terribly hard. With inadequate supplies and a war that seemed neverending, it was miraculous that there was anyone left to fight by the time it was over. Disease ran riot through the ranks, so if a bullet did not get you there was a high chance that dysentery would.

    Likewise, Krogman has depicted the desperate situation the Dakota Siouxs’ faced. Everything was in short supply—the war ensured that, but for the Dakota Sioux, it meant watching your family starve to death. reading this novel, from a modern perspective, I concluded that the past really is a very foreign county. I find it, even in context, very difficult to understand how anyone could justify starving anyone. The hatred on both sides is evident throughout this novel. When the Sioux finally took matters into their own hands, they targeted a defenceless family. The dilemma that Little Crow faces to defend and try to get justice for his people whilst trying to hold onto his position and keep the respect of his people was written with a great deal of understanding of the situation faced. I thought the depiction of Little Crow was fabulous.

    At times this book did make for some very difficult reading—this was, after all, a very brutal time in American history, but I also felt it was a very honest one.

    There is a great deal to love about this novel, and I came very close to giving it a full five stars but the editing has really let this book down. There are inconsistencies, not in the writing, but in the editing. There are many instances where the characters all speak in the same paragraph which made it difficult to figure out which voice belonged to whom. I think with a more thorough edit, this book could be something very special indeed.

    *I received a copy of this book from The Coffee Pot Book Club for review consideration.

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