1863 February 14: A Thorough Organization and Arming of the Border Militia
The following editorial is from the February 14, 1863, issue of The Polk County Press. It calls for a border militia and better arms for the frontiersmen of Polk County, just in case.
We think that the prospect of an Indian war on our frontier is sufficient to warrant a thorough organization and arming of the border militia. “In time of peace prepare for war.” It is an old saying, but is nevertheless the true practice. We cannot deny but what that there is a posibility [sic] of having trouble with the Chippewas, and if not with them, the Indian war in Minnesota is sufficiently near our homes to make such a step prudent and wise. There is a posibility [sic] of trouble, and that bare posibility [sic] should set the border men to thinking of the best means of defense. As matters stand now one hundred Indians could destroy half of our population and lay waste our whole northern border, before they could be checked. We know there are many who laugh at the idea of trouble with the Chippewas. Just so did the people of the Minnesota Valley when they were told by half-breeds and trappers that trouble was likely to come from the Soux [sic]. They paid no heed to these friendly warnings, and the result was, as we all know, most horrible. Let us, then, profit by their sad experience.
We think that companies of scouts, mounted rangers, and infantry for garrison duty should be organized at the earliest practible [sic] moment. Every boy and man should be in practice with his rifle, and ammunition and arms of the best quality should be kept ready in every family. The Legislature should take some action looking toward the protection of our exposed frontier.
We have in this county arms that have been furnished by the State, but they are packed away in boxes, some foul and rusty, others out of repair and in their present condition almost worthless. This should not be. A suitable room should be obtained, racks put up, the guns put in perfect order and placed in the racks and a person selected to take charge over them, and see that they are kept in their proper places. This could be done at a trifling expense, and it might prove a great benefit to all.
We do not say this to create an impression that there is any present or new danger, or to create a false alarm. We merely bring up the subject because we think that such organization would be of great benefit to this country, even if it should prove that it was unneccessary [sic]. It would quiet all fears of settlers who will be coming in to find homes under the Homestead Law, with the approaching season for emigration, and it would make all feel more secure.
Such an organization would do no harm at least, and might prove our salvation. Then let us not be lulled into false security, but prepare for emergences [sic], and that too without delay.