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Fort Abercrombie - History

Harpers Weekly sketch of soldiers attacking native american village

The fighting continued in 1863 and 1864, when Generals Sibley and Sully pursued the few remaining Santee into what is today North Dakota. The result of those campaigns did little to punish the Santee, but instead angered other Dakota bands who were themselves subject to army attack while having nothing to do with the original uprising. All of this helped to set the stage for later and much larger conflicts between the U.S. Army and northern plains tribes over the next fifteen years.

Yielding to political pressure from outraged citizens in Minnesota, Iowa, and Dakota Territory, the War Department launched punitive expeditions into Dakota Territory in 1863 and 1864 seeking the persons who had participated in the fighting in Minnesota. The expeditions included volunteers from Iowa and Nebraska. The army engaged Dakota (Sioux) people at Big Mound, Whitestone Hill, and Killdeer Mountains during 1863 and 1864. A new military post, Fort Rice, was placed in the heart of Dakota hunting grounds along the Missouri River during the summer of 1864. Yet even in time of war, Métis oxcart trains continued the commerce between St. Paul and the Red River settlements, with over 275 carts passing Fort Abercrombie in a two day period in July 1863.

In January, 1863, construction of a log stockade wall, with three corner blockhouses, was begun. However, as the fighting spread moved  to the Whitestone Hill (1863) and Killdeer Mountain (1864), the new defensive stockade at Fort Abercrombie, which was between 8 and 12 ft. in height, was never used in battle. Many additional buildings were constructed inside the enclosed compound as the fort grew in its importance to the protection of commerce and settlement of Dakota Territory. The exact date of the removal of the defensive stockade and blockhouses is not know, but in 1877, when Ft. Abercrombie was decommissioned, they no longer existed.

Site is open year-round.
Interpretive Center is open May 16 - September 15,
9am - 5pm, Thursday - Monday.

Contact Us:
(701) 549-2775
P.O. Box 148
Abercrombie, ND 58001