This interview was originally broadcast in October of 2013.
The Dakota War of 1862 and its aftermath would likely be among the most remembered stories of American frontier expansion in the 19th Century if not for one thing: The American Civil War, which was happening at the same time. As a result, the extraordinary story of the rebellion by Little Crow and his Dakota followers is largely overshadowed in history books and the American psyche by accounts of the brutal bloodletting on eastern battlefields called Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg.
In his book, 38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier’s End, Scott W. Berg tells the compelling tale of the Dakota War and its complex ties to the much larger struggle between the states. Now out in paperback, 38 Nooses also details the fascinating story of Abraham Lincoln and his personal and surprisingly deep involvement in the judgment of more than 300 men condemned for their role in the Indian uprising. The result was the simultaneous hanging of 38 Dakota men in the largest government-sanctioned execution in American history.
Born and raised in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Mr. Berg teaches nonfiction writing and literature at George Mason University. He is a regular contributor to The Washington Post and other publications on topics as diverse as civil rights history, classical theater, the sport of cricket and the digitization of history.