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SHSND Home > Historic Sites > Sibley & Sully Expeditions of 1863 > Camp Whitney

Camp Whitney State Historic Site

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Following the Battle of Big Mound (see Big Mound Battlefield and McPhail’s Butte Overlook), the Sibley expedition moved to Camp Whitney on July 25. There they buried Dr. Josiah S. Weiser, whose death ignited the battle. His grave, marked by a cairn and headstone, and the historic site lie approximately ten miles northeast of Tappen, Kidder County.

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The morning after the battle General Sibley watched tired men straggle into Camp Sibley and decided to wait until later in the day to move to a new camp. That morning Chaska, an Indian scout, and another scout returned with the body of Lieutenant Ambrose Freeman, who was killed the previous day while hunting with George Brackett, the expedition’s beef contractor. Chaska, a witness to Freeman’s death, helped Brackett hide in tall grass to avoid detection by the attacking Indians. The scout was instrumental in Brackett’s escape.

Before the troops left at about noon, the bodies of Lieutenant Freeman, John Murphy, and Gustaf A. Stark were buried at Camp Sibley. Private Murphy had been killed by lightning during the battle, and Private Stark died from battle wounds. The troops marched four miles to a small, muddy, rush-filled lake where they found fresh grass, but no wood. The mood of the camp was sullen, with many of the men disappointed, if not openly angry, with General Sibley’s decision to rest for the day while the Indians escaped.

A small isolated part of the original campsite is preserved. Possible remnants of rifle pits and defensive earthworks are visible. Access is limited by road conditions, and there are no visitor services or interpretation.

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Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
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phone: 701.328.2666
email: history@nd.gov