Two years rolled away-two short, bright years of individual and national prosperity, and then came a change. To use the words of the immortal Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way.” These utterances of inspiration so fittingly describing the period that ushered in the bloody French Revolution, may be applied with equal truth and force to the years that inaugurated the war between the States in fair America.
Did not prosperity bud and blossom in every vale and hamlet of this fair domain? And yet were a people ever more unmindful of, or more ungrateful for their blessings? Bickering and strife, dissension and hatred, grew fiercer with the growth of the nation’s grandeur. Slavery, on one hand said, “I will,” and Freedom, on the other, “You shall not.” So the war-cloud, “the size of a man’s hand” only at first, appeared upon the dim horizon of the future. Wisdom sought to devise plans for averting war, but Folly shook her locks tauntingly, and said mockingly, “Ha! ha! War is pleasant pastime.” So the culmination was reached, and a misguided people, clamorous for war, sounded the tocsin that caused rivers of blood to flow from brothers’ hearts, and enshrouded a grand and happy people in desolation and disgrace.
At the time when the war-cloud of fratricidal conflict was rolling dark and broad over the land, a treacherous enemy on the border were menacing and even destroying many of our country’s peaceful citizens. Upon the broad frontier at the Far West it became the duty of the government to hold these wily foes in check by a strong and reliable armed force. To this north-western outpost of service Captain Marshall had been ordered by the voice of his country. Not ordered there as to a holiday excursion, but ordered into actual bloody conflict, and to an ordeal that would have tried the bravery and courage of a veteran. At the head of his command, Company A, 3d Regiment U. S. Regulars, Captain Marshall reached this post of danger in the hour of its most imminent peril. But for this timely arrival of troops, the peaceful little town of Minneopoli might have been laid waste, and its defenceless inhabitants cruelly butchered or carried away captive. But the premeditated destruction of the town was averted, the treacherous “red-skins” disappointed, and Captain Marshall’s bravery demonstrated beyond a peradventure.