Minnesota County Histories
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Birch Cooley Tablets
The History of Renville County, Volume 2
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge
Upon and about the battlefield of Birch Cooley the Minnesota Valley Historical Society has placed several monuments or markers, which serve to identify important points of the battle ground. The site of this hallowed ground is about two and one-half miles east and north of the present village of Morton, in Renville county, on the west side of the great ravine called Birch Cooley.
The proper name of this ravine is Birch Coulee or Birch Coulie, but it has been corrupted to Birch Cooley, the official name of the township, and that spelling is used thoughout this work.
At the time of the battle the ground was virgin prairie. Half a mile down the coulee was the cabin and claim of Peter Pereau, a Frenchman, who had been killed and his family been taken prisoners. A number of other settlers living farther down the stream had been killed and some of their houses burned. The land where the battle was fought belonged to the government and was subsequently entered and occupied by Wm. Weiss, from whom it was purchased by the state, in 1896. When Mr. Weiss entered the land, in the sixties, the rifle pits dug by the beleaguered soldiers, the bones of the horses killed, and other evidences of the fight were plainly visible.
A marker indicating the position of Mankato's band during the battle, stands between the high sheltering banks of the Birch coulee. Another marker indicates the position during the battle of the Indians under Gray Bird, and also the point where they made their last stand before retreating. West of the former corral or encampment was the mound behind which Big Eagle's band fought. It has been plowed over so frequently that it has nearly disappeared.
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