Preservation Association Hopeful Battlefield Site Is Closer to Designation as National Historic Site (Minnesota)

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Union soldiers and Dakota warriors who clashed in a violent conflict 147 years ago may be remembered on the western Minnesota prairie where they gave their lives, and where the bodies of some still lie.

Gene Flaten, representing the Wood Lake Battlefield Preservation Association, told the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that the group is hopeful of seeing the site of the Sept. 23, 1862, Battle of Wood Lake designated as a national historic site within a year’s time.

It would represent a big step toward the group’s ultimate goal of preserving the site as a national battlefield.

It’s one of only two Civil War battlefield sites currently recommended by the National Park service for consideration for such a designation in Minnesota. The other is Fort Ridgely, where Union soldiers and Dakota warriors also battled in the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862.

Col. Henry Sibley and his 1,600 troops thwarted an ambush by Chief Little Crow at this site in eastern Yellow Medicine County, and the battle ended what some called President Abraham Lincoln’s “second war.”

Flaten said the nonprofit group has entered into a 50-year lease agreement with a landowner to protect a 64-acre portion of the battlefield. It is also close to completing a perpetual easement for a 240-acre portion of the battlefield with other landowners.

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