The answer was that after the massacre had been arranged in council, two Sioux visited a white family in which they had often been entertained, were drunk, and could not resist the impulse to butcher their entertainers. This precipitated the attack, for so soon as the news reached the tribe, they went to work to execute their bloody purpose.
Johnson, a converted Chippewa, hurried to inform us that his tribe with Hole-in-the-day in council had resolved to join the Sioux and were to have made St. Cloud their base of operations, but the Sioux had broken out before the arms and ammunition came, and these they were hourly expecting. On the same day a formal message came from Hole-in-the-day that Commissioner Dole must come to the reservation to confer with his young braves, who would await his arrival ten days, after which time their great chief declined to be responsible for them.
A runner arrived from Ft. Abercrombie, who had escaped by crawling through the grass, and reported the Fort besieged by a thousand savages, and quite unprepared for defense. There were several St. Cloud people in the Fort, and so far from expecting aid from it it must be relieved. The garrison at Ft. Ripley had not a man to spare for outside defense. People began to pour into St. Cloud with tales of horror to freeze the blood, and the worst reports were more than confirmed. The victorious Sioux had undisputed possession of the whole country west, southwest and northwest of us, up to within twelve miles of the city, and had left few people to tell tales. Our troops spent their time teaching women and children the use of firearms, and hoping for arms and orders to go to the relief of Abercrombie. There was no telegraph, and the last mail left no alternative but to start for Fort Snelling, with such short time to get there that every available man and horse must go to hurry them forward. They left in the afternoon, and that was a dreadful night. Many of the more timid women had gone east, but of those that remained some paced the streets, wringing their hands and sobbing out their fear and despair and sorrow for the husbands and brothers and sons taken from them at such a crisis.
When the troops left, we thought there were no more men in St. Cloud, but next morning found a dozen, counting the boys, who were organized to go out west to the rescue of settlers, and still there were some guards and pickets, and some who did nothing but find fault with everything any one else did.
Men and women spoke with stiffened lips and blanched faces. Families in the outskirts gathered to more central places, and there were forty-two women and children in my house the night after the troops left, and for every night for weeks. We kept large kettles of boiling water as one means of defense. I always had the watchword, and often at midnight I would go out to see that the pickets were on duty, and report to the women that all was well. Brother