LE SUEUR — New Ulm Mayor Bob Beussman told a crowd Sunday afternoon in Le Sueur that he was about 150 years too late delivering the words he was about to say.
What it boiled down to, he said — on behalf of the city of New Ulm ever since the breakout of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 — was thank you to those who “rushed to the aid of the citizens of New Ulm.” Which is why, at the dedication event for the Tiger Marker in Louise Park, Beussman declared Aug. 19 Le Sueur Tigers Day in his city.
The event drew city officials, historical society representatives, veterans, community members and descendants of Le Sueur Tigers to hear the stories and honor the memories of the men who set out for New Ulm 150 years ago to help defend New Ulm against Dakota attacks.
One of the descendants was 101-year-old Leo Lynch, a decorated World War II veteran. Lynch was asked to do the honors of unveiling the marker, which tells the story of the Tigers’ bravery.
Word had reached Le Sueur Aug. 19, 1862, that Dakota had attacked settlers near New Ulm. Two companies of about 150 militia volunteers organized, calling themselves Le Sueur Tigers 1 and 2, and marched to New Ulm.
The Tigers were in the midst of a big battle Aug. 23, when the Dakota made a major attack on the city.
“The Tigers played a critical role,” said historian and author Curt Dahlin. “During the battle, the Tigers performed gallantly.”
The settlers prevailed, but about 30 of them lost their lives, including six Tigers — Mathew Ahern, Monro Edwards, Washington Kulp, William Luskey, William Maloney and Luke Smith.
Most of the bodies were brought back to Le Sueur in the fall and buried in St. Anne’s Catholic Cemetery and St. Thomas Catholic Cemetery.
“There’s nothing more that one can ask of human beings than to risk their lives to save the lives of someone else. And the Tigers answered the call,” Dahlin said.
Le Sueur City Councilman Bob Broeder said the marker and dedication help to lift up those who “truly lived service above self.”
Erected by the Le Sueur Tigers Memorial Commission, the marker was funded through the Minnesota Historical Society with Arts and Cultural Heritage funds.