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Early history of Ozaukee County, Wisconsin
(1965)

The great Indian scare,   pp. 5-12


Page 5

THE GREAT INDIAN SCARE
Some think it wa just one of those unexplained cases of mass hysteria.
Other less casual thinkers belieye it was a very clever and nearly successful
scheme on the part of Confe4erate aents, Whichever it was, unbridled panic
swept Wisconsin in the early days of  eptember, 1862, culminating in a
frenzied flight from "murdering Indians" into Milwaukee. Of all the possible
oausp, only one thing is certain..,there were no murdering Idians!
The citizens of Wisconsin were no more fools then anyone else, but with
30,000 men on the Civil War front and put of the line of hw  defense, their
beloved Governor Harvey recently drowne in the Tennessee River, and blood-
chili4ng reports of actAl maspares in Minnesota, the whole state developed
a kingrsize4 case of thp Jtters. All of a su44en rumors of mythological
massacres loap*4 from town to ton like grass fires that refuse to be stamped
put. Respectable, reliable and perfectly sober citizens suddenly took to their
heel## convinced that they had escaped just ahead of a mob of plundering, raping,
scalping savages . One man in all, sincerity told a Milaukee Sentinel reporter
that a$ he nmdhis family has fle4, he had lookd back and seen Indians run
out of the woods and set his house onx fire,
There wae about 9,000 Indiqp  in Wisco~isin at that tie, a loyal, law-
abiding segment of the populaion, Many of them volunteered for servie   in
the Union army. When the fear spread over Wisconsin, the Indians panickMd
too, for they knew all too well that a scared white man is a dangerous one.
If it was a Conf-erate plot, as is suggested in the "Ristory of Ozaue ad
Washington Counties," it may well have been atmed at destroyng the amity


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