HDQRS. DIST. OF MINNESOTA, DEPT. OF THE NORTHWEST,
Saint Paul, Minn., August 19, 1864.
Major JOHN CLOWNEY,
Commanding Fort Wadsworth:
MAJOR: Your two public and one private dispatch of 10th instant have been received at these headquarters, and General Sibley instructs me to state that the progress of the work in erecting buildings, &c., is quite satisfactory, and he feels the utmost confidence in your ability and energy in pushing forward everything as rapidly as possible. You will, of course, give the necessary instructions for the security of the hay against fire, &c. The block-house cannot be made too solid and substantial. The general is pleased also to learn that the scouts are doing good service. It is important that the valley of the James River as well as the approaches to the Minnesota River by way of Lake Traverse be closely watched, so that the earliest information of the passage downward of war parties may be communicated through you to these headquarters. A party of fifty warriors of Sleepy Eyes' and White Lodge's bands, probably from the large camp between Devil's Lake and the Missouri, is reliably stated to be within a short distance of the line of outposts south of Fort Ridgely, and a raid from some of these outlaws has already been made on the Blue Earth River, resulting in the killing of two settlers and the wounding of a third. Those engaged in these murders have thus far escaped with a few stolen horses, although overtaken by an officer in command of a force equal if not superior in numbers, who did not deem it prudent to attack them at close quarters, which he should have done at all risks. Until some of these parties are cut up root and branch there will be a continual recurrence of these outrages upon the frontier. By what route these wretches passed down it is impossible to state, but the probability is they came by the James River. Measures are being taken to thwart and punish any further attempts, but the limited force scattered along a line of such extent renders it difficult to guard the border at all points.
Although no hostile savages have been discovered in the region about Fort Wadsworth, too much care and vigilance cannot be exercised. These subtle and treacherous enemies may at any time be lying in wait for stragglers or to steal horses and other animals, which should never be left unguarded for a moment. You will please report the arrival of the force dispatched to escort Captain Fisk as soon as it returns, as General Sibley feels some solicitude for the safety of that small command in traversing a country where it may be assailed by overwhelming numbers. He trusts to learn soon of their safe arrival at Wadsworth. The papers of the 18th contain a telegraphic rumor, originating from a paper called the Dakota Union, of the disastrous defeat of Brigadier-General Sully's forces, but General Sibley attaches no credit to it whatever. Still, that he may have sustained a reverse is possible, and in view of such a contingency, as the danger of a formidable demonstrations would in such case be redoubled, every precaution possible should be adopted to meet it.
By command of Brigadier-General Sibley:
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. C. OLIN,