Growing up in New Ulm, Minnesota, I didn’t learn much about the war on the prairie in 1862. New Ulm was one of the places attacked by Dakota warriors. That’s really the only fact I knew.
When a chance comment got my curiosity activated, I began searching for sources to learn more. There are tons of books and websites with an adult audience in mind, but little for young readers. Primary source memoirs, letters and documents, and carefully researched secondary sources provide factual context for fictional Caroline to tell her story.
The Diary of Caroline Beck, German Immigrant, New Ulm, Minnesota 1856-1863 tells of the family’s move to New Ulm as some of the earliest settlers. They faced hardships, challenges and joys building shelter, growing food, defending their town and learning to survive on the Minnesota frontier. Caroline, who questions what others assume, also lives through the attacks on New Ulm during the U.S. Dakota War of 1862. She describes her experiences and reflects on this human tragedy and how it affected Dakota families.
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