Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The unsettled status of the Red River Valley during the 1860's made inevitable the establishment of a military post near the 49th Parallel. The Minnesota Uprising in 1862 caused a band of Sioux Indians, responsible for the massacre, to flee to Canada to escape punishment by the military. In 1863, a hastily organized battalion established a temporary fort at Pembina to capture the renegades. After accomplishing its mission, the battalion abandoned the post in 1864.

With the end of the Civil War, people looked to the frontier for fertile lands to settle; but the Indian threat kept them out of the Red River Valley. Legislators in Minnesota and Dakota Territory requested Congress to establish a post on the Red River in the vicinity of the international boundary. In 1870, Congress granted the request, and Ft. Pembina was erected during the summers of 1870-1871.

There was little military action against hostiles at Ft. Pembina. Only two incidents were recorded in the post's history--the Fenian raid into Manitoba in 1871 and the investigation of the St. Joseph massacre three years later.

The last twenty years of the post's existence were spent in normal fort duties, patrolling along the boundary, and socializing with the people of Pembina. In 1895 the post was abandoned after a fire destroyed most of the buildings.

The post brought stability to the area, for within four years after its erection, people had settled all the land along the Red River. It is noteworthy that a small garrison played a large part in the settlement of this fertile region.