Fort Ridgely was established in 1851 to watch over the Dakota Sioux Indian Agency. The 6th US Infantry was there to keep the peace among the Dakota (Sioux) and the settlers on the newly opened up territory. During the Civil War, the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment manned the fort.
On 20-22 Aug 1862, 400 to 500 Dakota Sioux attacked Fort Ridgely. This was one of the few attacks on a garrisoned fort in the west. The assault was turned back after two days of hard fighting. Reinforcements arrived 27 Aug 1862 to assist the 280 military and civilians manning the fort.
In 1867, the fort was closed. One individual remained as a caretaker. In 1872, the caretaker left and civilians claimed the land and buildings. What remains is mostly ruins and foundations, with a reconstructed commissary which serves today as a museum and visitors center. An original log powder magazine was returned and restored in the 1930s. The Minnesota Historical Society erected a tall granite monument there in 1896 and the site became a state memorial in 1911.
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