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General Sully


One of the most colorful military posts was Fort Sully, established in 1863 below Pierre in Dakota Territory by Brigadier General Alfred Sully, who used the place to plan and launch battles with the menacing Sioux Indians. Sully commanded 15 steamers, some engaged in St. Louis and others that he commandeered, to convey 2,200 troops deep into Dakota Territory in pursuit of nearly 6,000 Sioux warriors in 1864. Sully finally quelled the "Great Sioux Uprising," bringing a near end to many years of Indian wars. "Forts and cantonments were strung all along the river...and all of them, as well as the troops in the field, depended for their support upon the riverboats," Sully said. Twilight passenger Will J. wrote of meeting Sully at Fort Rice the day after a "Grand Council" with a portion of the hostiles to conclude a treaty of peace. "They stated as their cause of hostility that the white men were invading and occupying the country which had been set apart for them by the Government, were killing and driving off their game, and driving them rapidly to the verge of starvation. By the way, there is a peculiarity about the appearance of the Indians on the Upper Missouri which must strike every beholder, and that is, the universally sad and dejected expression of every countenance you see. The years of suffering, the cruelties and persecutions which have been heaped upon them by their civilized white brethren, are as plainly inscribed there as if written on the page of history."



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