Fool Soldiers Band Monument

Photo added by DDavis

Fool Soldiers Band Monument

1820 West Grand Crossing
Mobridge, Walworth County, South Dakota, 57601 USA
Memorials 11 added

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Inscription on monument:

"Shetek Captives Rescued Here
November 1862
By Fool Soldiers Band"

The Fool Soldiers Band Monument was erected in memory of a group of Teton Lakota men who rescued two women and seven children from captivity by hostile Dakota during the US-Dakota War of 1862. During the war, a band of hostile Dakota attacked the settlement at Lake Shetek, Minn., killing 14 people and taking captive Laura Duley and her children Jefferson, Emma, and Francis; and Julia Wright and four other children.

The captives were taken to the Missouri River, at its junction with Grand River. When word of their whereabouts came to Fort Pierre, a group of 11 young Lakota men set out to rescue them. In 1860, they had formed a society based on non-violence and taken an oath to help all people. Their philosophy was viewed with skepticism and they were ridiculed by their neighbors as "Fool Soldiers". Their names were Kills Game, Comes Back, Four Bear, Mad Bear, Pretty Bear, Sitting Bear, Swift Bird, One Rib, Strikes Fire, Red Dog, and Charging Dog. They were led by Martin Charger, who is believed to be a grandson of Capt. Merriweather Lewis, the explorer.

The Fool Soldiers found the Dakota camp of White Lodge, leader of the hostile band, and entered difficult and dangerous negotiations for the release of the captives. During this process, they offered their own horses, blankets, food, and even their own weapons for their release. Finally, White Lodge begrudgingly agreed to free them and on Nov. 20, 1862 the captives were released to the Fool Soldiers. Having traded all but two guns and one horse, the rescuers made a basket for the children to ride in and placed Laura Duley, who had been shot in the foot, on the horse. Martin Charger then gave his own moccasins to Julia Wright, who had no shoes.

The Fool Soldiers led the women and children safely to Fort Pierre, a journey of 100 miles across the plains through snow, bitter cold, and blizzard conditions. To this day, they are viewed by some members of their own tribe as traitors; others view them as heroes for their selfless act. They had expected no rewards or other reimbursements and their actions seemed to be motivated purely by humanitarian concerns. The Fool Soldiers society is still active today.

NOTE: No remains are buried at this site; this monument was erected to remember and honor the men of the Fool Soldiers Band

GPS Coordinates: 45.53849, -100.43388

  • Added: 22 Jan 2011
  • Find A Grave Cemetery: #2385551