Birch Coulee Battlefield, Morton

#53 of 70 in Wildlife in Minnesota
Birch Coulee Battlefield in Renville County, Minnesota, United States, was the site of the Battle of Birch Coulee, the costliest military engagement for U.S. forces during the Dakota War of 1862. It is now a historic site with self-guided trails and markers interpreting the battle from both sides. Birch Coulee was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places for having state-level significance in military history, and was listed in 1973.GeographyBirch Coulee Battlefield lies on what, in 1862, was open prairie stretching on to the north and west, with woods to the south. Defining the east edge is a steep wooded ravine, a landform known locally by the French term "coulee," also spelled "coulie" or "cooley." Birch Coulee, known to the Dakota as Tanpa Yukan (Place of the White Birch), is 60ft deep and runs for a total of 7mi down to the Minnesota River. A few hundred yards to the west of the coulee, the prairie rises slightly onto a gentle knoll.Battle of Birch CouleeOn September 1, 1862, a burial detail of about 170 Union Army volunteers and civilians under Major Joseph R. Brown camped on the prairie west of Birch Coulee. The site was selected by Captain Hiram Grant earlier that day while Brown was ahead scouting. A group of Dakota soldiers under Zitkahtahhota (Gray Bird), on their way to attack New Ulm, chanced upon the U.S. soldiers camping in a tactically weak position. Hidden by the ravine and the tall prairie grass, the Dakota surrounded the camp and attacked at dawn, inflicting heavy casualties and killing most of the army's horses. With the Union party cut off from fresh water and dug in behind their dead mounts, the Dakota maintained a daylong siege, letting occasional gunfire and the hot sun take their toll.
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Birch Coulee Battlefield Reviews
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10 reviews
  • I went there alone on April 4th. Still snow here and there. I was the only one around. I had the whole place to myself but that was rather boring. I sat and wondered...were all those Bur Oak trees and...  more »
  • Especially Old West "Stuff" this has everything for you. One can get exercise, enjoy the Great Outdoors, and view the land (as close as possible) as the original combatants in 1862. There is much here...  more »
  • Beautiful prairie setting. The paths were immaculate. The history was palpable. We had teens with us and they enjoyed it as well. The only downside was it isn't well marked on where to begin your self guided tour.
  • Beautiful prairie! Really liked the kiosk information. We love the history. Keep sharing...

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