Full Title: "Mendota and the Restive Rivers of the Indian and Civil Wars 1861-65" (The Simmons Family)
Dane Pizzuti Krogman was educated in the fine arts at the University of Minnesota, receiving BFA and MFA degrees. He also specialized in Asian art history, with a concentration in textile and surface design. After graduation, he worked as a freelance designer creating fashion samples for women’s athletic wear. He eventually relocated to California and taught at Cal-Poly Pomona in the Environmental Design program then moved on to work as a pictorial artist for outdoor advertising. Moving back to the Twin Cities in 1981 he formed a scenic design company call Artdemo which in 10 years did over 1000 designs and productions for sets, props, and special effects for television commercials and feature films. In the early 90’s he relocated to Charleston, SC to work as a spec writer for feature film scripts. Six of his screenplays have won major writing awards and two of these have been optioned for production. During this time he also taught scene design at the College of Charleston. This position led to an adjunct teaching position at Virginia Commonwealth University where he taught art direction for filmmakers. In 1998 he took a full time teaching position at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where he taught art direction, life drawing, set construction, and Asian film studies, eventually becoming chairman of the department.
The common thread through all of this has been his passion for Japanese design, art, and fashion. He has lived in Kyoto, Japan for the past 20 summers studying Japanese kimono and obi design of the Heian and Edo periods. In 2002 he won the Grand Prize for the best graphic novel at the Hiroshima manga competition. His graphic Novel Skeleton boy was selected for inclusion into the Hiroshima peace memorial library in 2007.
He was most recently an adjunct faculty member in the Graduate Program in Digital Filmmaking at Stony Brook Southampton. He is also an award-winning screenwriter. His screenplay, The Schooner was produced as the Australian film, AUSTRALIA in 2008. He has other award-winning films that have been optioned for production or are in production.
As a Civil War historian he has worked as a technical advisor for the films, Dances with Wolfs, Gettysburg, and Glory. He currently has one Civil War novel in pre-publication; MENDOTA, AND THE RESTIVE RIVERS OF THE CIVIL AND INDIAN WARS 1861-65.
He also works part-time as a crew member on a Grand-Am Rolex series race team. The team won the national championship in 2008
Book Title: Mendota and the Restive Rivers of the Indian and Civil Wars 1861-65
Series: The Simmons family saga
Author: Dane Pizzuti Krogman
Publication Date: 15th March 2021
Publisher: Independently Published
Page Length: 416 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Title and Author Name:
Mendota and the Restive Rivers of the Indian and Civil Wars 1861-65
(The Simmons family saga)
By Dane Pizzuti Krogman
This is the fictional story set in Mendota, Minnesota of the Simmons family who are faced with the consequences of the Dakota Sioux Uprising of 1862 that swept across the state as well as the Civil War.
The father, Dan enlists in the 1st regiment of Minnesota volunteers as a teamster. His two sons, who are both underage join the 2nd Regiment. John, aged 16 becomes a bugler and William, aged 15 becomes a drummer. Their sister, Sara is left behind with their mother, Louise to fend for themselves. Dan is sent east to fight with the Army of the Potomac while his sons are sent to the western theater to serve in the army of the Cumberland. Back in Mendota, their neighbor and close friend, Colonel Henry Sibley is ordered to stay in the state to control the Indian uprising.
Dan will see action up through the battle of Antietam. He will later find himself in the hospital in Washington DC where he befriends a comrade also from the 1st Regiment. His sons barely miss the action at Shiloh but after, are engaged in all the major battles in the West. While they are passing through Louisville, William falls for a young woman, Mary who works as a hospital nurse. Back in Mendota, Sara befriends a young Chippewa native boy while her mother struggles with the breakup of her family. After Colonel Sibley defeats the Sioux, he is promoted to General and ordered to round up all the Dakota and push resettle them in the Dakotas.
This leads to the punitive expeditions that he and General Sully will command up until 1864. William is captured at the battle up Missionary Ridge and then sent to the prison camp at Belle Isle, VA. and then onto Andersonville. GA. John receives a 30 day furlough and returns to Mendota before he re-enlists. Louise and Sara wait for the war’s end so the family can be reunited, but events may not turn out as anticipated.
Chapter Ten: Antietam Creek.
The fighting was so severe at Antietam that one soldier claimed it appeared as if the entire landscape had turned red. At 25 thousand casualties, it would come to be the most bloody day in US history. To equate this to a modern-day equivalent imagine that for 12 hours starting at 6 am and ending at 6 pm, every ten minutes a fully loaded 747 jetliner crashed into the 12 square mile field that made up the battlefield on that September day in 1862 and you would know the horror what those soldiers faced.
In the Eastern theatre, First Minnesota was part of the great slaughter at the battle of Antietam. Dan was not wounded nor was he involved in the fight. The Army of the Potomac had just had its medical corps updated with new ambulances and a system for getting wounded off the field and to a tent hospital as quickly as possible. Dan was now part of the new Ambulance corps and had been issued a new Letterman style ambulance and two horses. The ambulance was equipped to carry 6 wounded on stretchers and had with it two litter carriers and one driver. News of this had not reached William or John or for that matter anyone back in Mendota. Unfortunately, even with this easy duty, Dan had become a casualty of the most dreaded affliction of the army: dysentery. But through the heat and humidity of Maryland’s summer of 1862, Dan still carried on with his duties. A few days after the great battle, Dan drove his ambulance to the top of a ridgeline overlooking the Antietam battlefield. He dismounted and walked toward an open-air hospital. Row upon row of soldiers from both sides was laid out in the cuts of a cornfield. The grand hospital tent that was promised never arrived and these men suffered under whatever protection comrades could slap together for them. Surgeons and attendants walked among them, tending to the wounded and dying.
A surgeon, noticing Dan and his ambulance walked up to him to ask him about his load of wounded. “How many more you got this time?” “A baker’s dozen.” Answered Dan with a painful grimace. “Are they all living?” asked the surgeon. “Yes, most I think,” said Dan.
The surgeon pointed in a direction down the hill. “Unload them here but take the dead to the end of this road. You’ll find graves registration down there. I’ll have my orderlies here to help you unload. I can see you are in no condition to do that alone.”
The surgeon whistled and two black men came running up. Dan stared at them in disbelief. One of the men, looking annoyed, stared back at Dan. “What’s the matter with you? Never seen a gravedigger before?” Dan was taken aback. “Uh...no, no, no... Just...” “Just what?” asked the digger. Dan caught off guard, answered, “Just never seen any Darkies before.” The second digger responded. “We ain’t darkies. We free men. You in a border state now white boy, better get used to seeing new things. Where you from up North?” “Minnesota,” Dan answered. “It gets cold up there?” asked the digger. Dan nodded and wiped the sweat from his brow. “Yeah, Most of the time.”
Now all the men including the surgeon were wiping sweat from their faces and reaching for their canteens. Dan gestured to the scene before him. “Been pretty hot work here, it looks like.” One of the diggers responded. “Guess drivin’ that wagon you don’t get to see too much of the fightin’.” Dan nodded. “Not much but seen enough… Seen enough to know I don’t need to see anymore.”
The second black man took a pull off his canteen, then made a sweeping gesture out over the field. “Looking at this is the worst of what war has to offer, and we grave diggers got it worse. We not only have to see it, but we must also smell it too.”
At that, Dan passed gas and they both shared a light laugh. “OK, well, let’s get this done before I crap myself again. Go easy on the ones who are hurtin’ the most. Some of these boys were just picked up today. They were laying out there in the sun for two days now.”
One of the diggers looked back over the field. “Those poor devils lying in those cornrows have been there longer. It rained the other night and those rows filled with water and some of the worst wounded drowned in the mud.” Dan shuddered at the thought. “My God!”
The orderlies set forth to offload the wounded and carried them over to the cornrows and gently laid them in the field. The moaning, crying and suffering was more than Dan could handle. He bent over and gripped his stomach. The surgeon noticed. “Hey, driver! You OK?” “Yeah, just another cramp. Virginia Quickstep. Been going on for over a month now.” The surgeon called back to him. “I’ll have my orderly get you some blue mass.” Dan waved him off. “That stuff hasn’t worked at all.” “Would you like to stay here in the hospital? I can get you out of your regular duties until you feel better.” “This hospital, if that’s the best you can do, no thanks, I’ll tough it out,” said Dan as he mounted his ambulance. He then led his team and ambulance of the dead down the road to graves registration.
Mid-September 1862 would find the Simmons men spread out across the Midwest and the Eastern United States, General Sibley was the commander of Minnesota troops in battle against the Dakota, and the citizens of Mendota living in fear of their lives as white settlers were being killed and or captured and enslaved by the natives who were rebelling. Along the banks of the Minnesota River, Little Crow and his bands had been engaged with skirmishes with some of the volunteer militia made up of settlers who had joined in the fight with Sibley all through August and now into late September. The uprising started mid-August after a brief meeting between Little Crow and Big Eagle when they discussed that the only choice was to now fight for their freedom, as they knew the whites would not tolerate what those four braves of Little Shakopee had done. The rape and murder of a child and women would not sit right with the whites and now the Indians were not just fighting for their rightful due, but in the eyes of the white settlers and army they were simply criminals, and when caught there would be no mercy shown to them. So the uprising continued. The citizens of the new state and those settled near the Fort, agency, or reservations were most concerned for their lives.
Nearing the end of September, the Dakota had killed or captured 1500 whites, 300 of whom were held in captivity. Sibley knew that his first mission would be to find these captives and negotiate a release. In the village of Mendota, Louise and Sara Simmons spent the evening of September 22nd sitting in the relative comfort of their small cabin. Autumn was coming early, and Sara placed a couple of logs that her father had split before he left into the fireplace. In her mind, she could see her brothers and father and wondered what they were doing this evening. She longed for them to be home, especially since the Natives in the camp on the other side of the river were once again celebrating their victories over the white settlers. Sara covered her ears to block the sound of the drumming, chanting, and continued annoyance of the tribe. She knew that in that Indian camp some of the captured white women and children were being held and could only imagine their suffering, especially after what she knew of the first mother and daughter that had been killed on the first day of the uprising. Her “cut hair” teacher from the agency school had told the students what would be done to those captives and Sara thought it was the cruelest thing any teacher could say to any classroom of students. Sara noticed her mother wince at every drum beat or high-pitched yelp coming from across the river.
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