This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Buy it on Amazon Listen via Audible FREE Audible 30 days

a citizen, his name and his last resting place should be rescued from the oblivion that will soon enshroud them.”

Another village has been commenced by the whites on the Mississippi river, at Fort Madison, which is being built up very rapidly. The country, too, is fast settling up by farmers, and as the Sacs have made a settlement on the frontier farther west, on our old hunting grounds, he said he would have to move farther back so as to be near his people; and on bidding us farewell, said it might be the last time, as he was growing old, and the distance would be too great from the point at which he intended to build a house and open a little farm to make a visit on horseback, and as the Des Moines river is always low in the fall of the year he could not come in his canoe.

At the close of the summer of 1837 the President of the United States invited deputations from several tribes Of Indians residing on the Upper Mississippi to visit him at Washington. Among those who responded to his invitation were deputations from the Sacs and Foxes and Sioux, who had been at enmity, and between whom hostilities had been renewed, growing out of their inhuman treatment of many of the women and children of the Sacs, after they had made their escape from the battle of Bad Axe, at the close of the war.

Keokuk, principal chief of the Sacs and Foxes, (by the advice of his friend, Sagenash, Col. George Davenport, of Rock Island) invited Black Hawk to join his delegation, which invitation he readily accepted, and made one of the party; whilst the Sioux were represented by several of their crafty chiefs. Several counsels were held, the object of which was to establish peace between the Sacs and Foxes and Sioux, and in order to perpetuate it, make a purchase of a portion of the country of the Sioux, which territory should be declared neutral, and on which neither party should intrude for any purpose; but the Sioux, whose domain extends far and wide, would not consent to sell any of their land; hence nothing was accomplished.

Before returning to their county the Sac and Fox delegation visited the large cities in the East, in all of which Black Hawk attracted great attention; but more particularly in Boston, as he did not visit it during his former tour. The delegation embraced Keokuk, his wife and little son, four chiefs of the nation, Black Hawk and son, and several warriors. Here they were received and welcomed by the mayor of the city, and afterwards by Governor Everett as the representative of the State. On the part of the city, after a public reception, the doors of Faneuil Hall were opened to their visitors to hold a levee for the visits of the ladies, and in a very short time the “old cradle of liberty” was jammed full.

After dinner the delegation was escorted to the State House by a military company, and on their arrival were conspicuously seated in front of the Speakers’ desk, the house being filled with ladies, members of the legislature, and dignitaries of the city council.

Governor Everett then addressed the audience, giving a brief history of the Sac and Fox tribe, whose principal chiefs (including the great war chief) were then present, and then turning to them hi said: “Chiefs and warriors of the united Sacs and Foxes, you are welcome to our hall of council. Brothers, you have come a long way from your home to visit your white brethren; we rejoice to take you by the hand. Brothers, we have heard the names of your chiefs and warriors. Our brethren who have traveled in the West have told us a great deal about the Sacs and Foxes. We rejoice to see you with our own eyes.

“Brothers, we are called the Massachusetts. This is the name of the red men who once lived here. Their wigwams were scattered on yonder fields, and their council fire was kindled on this spot. They were of the same great race as the Sacs and Foxes.

“Brothers, when our fathers came over the great water they were a small band. The red man stood upon the rock by the seaside and saw our fathers. He might have pushed them into the water and drowned them; but he stretched out his hand to them and said: ‘Welcome, white man.’ Our fathers were hungry, and the red man gave them corn and venison. They were cold, and the red man wrapped them in his blanket. We are now numerous and powerful, but we remember the kindness of the red men to our fathers. Brothers, you are welcome; we are glad to see you.

“Brothers, our faces are pale, and your faces are dark, but our hearts are alike. The Great Spirit has made His children of different colors, but He loves them all.

“Brothers, you dwell between the Mississippi and Missouri. They are mighty rivers. They have one branch far East in the Alleghanies and another far West in the Rocky Mountains, but they flow together at last into one great stream and ran down into the sea. In like manner the red man dwells in the West and the white man in the East, by the great water; but they are all one band, one family. It has many branches; but one head.

“Brothers, as you entered our council house, you beheld the image of our great father, Washington. It is a cold stone; it cannot speak to you, but he was the friend of the red man, and bade his children live in friendship with their red brethren. He is gone to the world of spirits, but his words have made a very deep print in our hearts, like the step of a strong buffalo on the soft clay of the prairie.

“Brother, (addressing Keokuk) I perceive your little son between your knees. May the Great Spirit preserve his life, my, brother. He grows up before you, like the tender sapling by the side of the great oak. May they flourish for a long time together; and when the mighty oak is fallen on the ground may the young tree fill its place in the forest, and spread out its branches over the tribe.

“Brothers, I make you a short talk and again bid you welcome to our council hall.”

Keokuk rose and made an eloquent address. Several of the other chiefs spoke, and after them the old war chief, Black Hawk, on whom the large crowd were looking with intense interest, arose and delivered a short but dignified address.

Presents were then distributed to them by the Governor. Keokuk received a splendid sword and a brace of pistols, his son a nice little rifle, the other chiefs long swords, and Black Hawk a sword and brace of pistols.

After the close of ceremonies in the Capitol, the Indians gave a exhibition of the war dance, in the common in front of the Capitol, in presence of thirty thousand spectators, and then returned to their quarters.


Soon after his return from Boston he removed his family and little band farther West, on the Des Moines river, near the storehouse of an Indian trader, where he had previously erected a good house for his future home. His family embraced his wife, two sons, Nashashuk and Gamesett, and an only daughter and her husband. As he had given up the chase entirely–having sufficient means from the annuities–he now turned his attention to the improvement of his grounds, and soon had everything comfortably around him. Here he had frequent visits from the whites, who came out in large numbers to look at the country, many of whom called through curiosity to see the great war chief, but all were made welcome and treated with great hospitality.

In 1838 Fort Madison had grown to be a little village, and its inhabitants were not only enterprising and industrious, but patriotic citizens. On the 4th of July of that year they had a celebration and having known and respected Black Hawk while residing in that part of the country, invited him to join them as a guest on that occasion.

In reply to a letter of B.F. Drake, Esq., of Cincinnati, asking for such incidents in the life of Black Hawk as he knew, Hon. W. Henry Starr, of Burlington, Iowa, whom we knew for many years as a highly honorable and intelligent gentleman, gave the following account of the celebration in his reply, dated March 21, 1839:

“On the 4th of July, 1838, Black Hawk was present by special invitation, and was the most conspicuous guest of the citizens assembled in commemoration of that day. Among the toasts called forth by the occasion was the following:

“‘Our illustrious guest, Black Hawk: May his declining years be as calm and serene as his previous life has been boisterous and full of warlike incidents. His attachment and great friendship to his white brethren, fully entitle him to a seat at our festive board.'”

“So soon as this sentiment was drank, Black Hawk arose and delivered the following speech, which was taken down at the time by two interpreted, and by them furnished for publication:

“It has pleased the Great Spirit that I am here to-day. I have eaten with my white friends. The earth is our mother–we are now on it– with the Great Spirit above us–it is good. I hope we are all friends here. A few summers ago I was fighting against you–I did wrong, perhaps; but that is past–it is buried–let it be forgotten.

“Rock river was a beautiful country–liked my towns, my cornfields, and the home of my people. I fought for it. It is now yours–keep it as we did–it will produce you good crops.

“I thank the Great Spirit that I am now friendly with my white brethren–we are here together–we have eaten together–we are friends–it is his wish and mine. I thank you for your friendship.

“I was once a great warrior-I am now poor. Keokuk has been the cause of my present situation–but do not attach blame to him. I am now old. I have looked upon the Mississippi since I have been a child. I love the Great river. I have dwelt upon its banks from the time I was an infant. I look upon it now. I shake hands with you, and as it is my wish, I hope you are my friends.’

“In the course of the day he was prevailed upon to drink several times, and became somewhat intoxicated, an uncommon circumstance, as he was generally temperate.

“In the autumn of 1837, he was at the house of an Indian trader, in the vicinity of Burlington, when I became acquainted and frequently convened with him in broken English, and through the medium of gestures and pantomine. A deep seated melancholy was apparent in his countenance, and conversation. He endeavored to make me comprehend, on one occasion, his former greatness, and represented that he was once master of the country, east, north, and south of us–that he had been a very successful warrior-called himself, smiting his breast, ‘big Captain Black Hawk,’ ‘nesso Kaskaskias,’ (killed the Kaskaskias,) ‘nesso Sioux a heap,’ (killed a great number of Sioux). He then adverted to the ingratitude of his tribe, in permitting Keokuk to supercede him, who, he averred, excelled him in nothing but drinking whisky.

“Toward Keokuk he felt the most unrelenting hatred. Keokuk was, however, beyond his influence, being recognized as chief of the tribe by the government of the United States. He unquestionably possessed talents of the first order, excelled as an orator, but his authority will probably be short-lived, on account of his dissipation and his profligacy in spending the money paid him for the benefit of his tribe, and which he squanders upon himself and a few favorites, through whose influence he seeks to maintain his authority.

“You inquire if Black Hawk was at the battle of the Thames? On one occasion I mentioned Tecumthe to him and he expressed the greatest joy that I had heard of him, and pointing away to the East, and making a feint, as if aiming a gun, said, ‘Chemocoman (white man) nesso,’ (kill.) From which I had no doubt of his being personally acquainted with Tecumthe, and I have been since informed, on good authority, that he was in the battle of the Thames and in several other engagements with that distinguished chief.”

In September, 1838, he started with the head men of his little band to go to Rock Island, the place designated by the Agent, to receive their annuities, but was taken sick on the way and had to return to his home. He was confined to his bed about two weeks, and on the 3d day of October, 1838, he was called away by the Great Spirit to take up his abode in the happy grounds of the future, at the age of seventy- one years. His devoted wife and family were his only and constant attendants during his last sickness, and when brought home sick, she had a premonition that he would soon be called away.

The following account of his death and burial we take from the Burlington Hawk-Eye, and as we knew the writer as a reliable gentleman, many years ago, we have no doubt of it being strictly correct.

Captain James H. Jordan, a trader among the Sacs and Foxes before Black Hawk’s death, was present at his burial, and is now residing on the very spot where he died. In reply to a letter of inquiry he writes as follows:

ELDON, Iowa, July 15, 1881.

Black Hawk was buried on the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 2, township 70, range 12, Davis county, Iowa, near the northeast corner of the county, on the Des Moines river bottom, about ninety rods from where he lived when he died, and the north side of the river. I have the ground on which he lived for a door yard, it being between my house and the river. The only mound over the gave was some puncheons split out and set over his grave and then sodded over with blue gross, making a ridge about four feet high. A flag- staff, some twenty feet high, was planted at the head, on which was a silk flag, which hung there until the wind wore it out. My house and his were only about four rods apart when he died. He was sick only about fourteen days. He was buried right where he sat the year before, when in council with Iowa Indians, and was buried in a suit of military clothes, made to order and given to him when in Washington City by General Jackson, with hat, sword, gold epaulets, etc., etc.

The Annals of Iowa of 1863 and 1864 state that the old chief was buried by laying his body on a board, his feet fifteen inches below the surface of the ground, and his head raised three feet above the ground. He was dressed in a military uniform, said to have been presented to him by a member of General Jackson’s cabinet, with a cap on his head ornamented with feathers. On his left side was a sword presented him by General Jackson; on his right side a cane presented to him by Henry Clay, and one given to him by a British officer, and other trophies. Three medals hung about his neck from President Jackson, ex-President John Quincy Adams and the city of Boston, respectively. The body was covered with boards on each side, the length of the body, which formed a ridge, with an open space below; the gables being closed by boards, and the whole was covered with sod. At the head was a flag-staff thirty-five feet high which bore an American flag worn out by exposure, and near by was the usual hewn post inscribed with Indian characters representing his war-like exploits, etc. Enclosing all was a strong circular picket fence twelve feet high. His body remained here until July, 1839, when it was carried off by a certain Dr. Turner, then living at Lexington, Van Buren county, Iowa. Captain Horn says the bones were carried to Alton, Ills., to be mounted with wire. Mr. Barrows says they were taken to Warsaw, Ills. Black Hawk’s sons, when they heard of this desecration of their father’s grave, were very indignant, and complained of it to Governor Lucas of Iowa Territory, and his excellency caused the bones to be brought back to Burlington in the fall of 1839, or the spring of 1840. When the sons came to take possession of them, finding them safely stored “in a good dry place” they left them there. The bones were subsequently placed in the collection of the Burlington Geological and Historical Society, and it is certain that they perished in the fire which destroyed the building and all the society’s collections in 1855; though the editor of the Annals, (April, 1865, p. 478) says there is good reason to believe that the bones were not destroyed by the fire, and he is “creditably informed that they are now at the residence of a former officer of said society and thus escaped that catastrophe.”

Another account, however, and probably a more reliable one, states that the last remains of Black Hawk were consumed as stated, in the burning building containing the collections and properties of the Burlington Geological and Historical Society.

In closing this narrative of the life of this noble old chief it may be but just to speak briefly of his personal traits. He was an Indian, and from that standpoint we must judge him. The make-up of his character comprised those elements in a marked degree which constitutes a noble nature. In all the social relations of life he was kind and affable. In his house he was the affectionate husband and father. He was free from the many vices that others of his race had contracted from their associations with the white people, never using intoxicating beverages to excess. As a warrior he knew no fear, and on the field of battle his feats of personal prowess stamped him as the “bravest of the brave.”

But it was rather as a speaker and counsellor that he was distinguished. His patriotism, his love of his country, his home, his lands and the rights of his people to their wide domain, moved his great soul to take up arms to protect the rights of his people. Revenge and conquest formed no part of his purpose. _Right_ was all that he demanded, and for _that_ he waged the unequal contests with the whites. With his tribe he had great personal influence and his young men received his counsel and advice, and yielded ready acquiescence in his admonitions. With other tribes he was held in high esteem, as well as by English and American soldiers, who had witnessed his prowess on the field of battle.


This favorite resort of Black Hawk, situated on the highest bank of Rock river, had been selected by his father as a lookout, at the first building up of their village. From this point they had an unobstructed view up and down Rock river for many miles, and across the prairies as far as the vision could penetrate, and since that country has been settled by the whites, for more than half a century, has been the admiration of many thousands of people.

The village of Black Hawk, including this grand “look out,” was purchased from the Government by Col. George Davenport, at Black Hawk’s particular request, for the reason, as he afterwards told us, that he could leave it with an abiding assurance that the graves of their people would be protected from vandal hands.

This property including hundreds of acres lying between Rock river and the Mississippi, is now owned by Hon. B. Davenport, and as it has long been a pleasure resort for picnic and other parties, he has erected an elegant pavilion on its site, with a good residence for a family, who have charge of it, which will now make it the finest pleasure resort in that part of the country. And in order to make it more easy of access, he has constructed a branch from the Rock Island and Milan railroad, leading directly to the Tower. Now its many visitors in the future can sit on the veranda, and while enjoying the elegant scenery, can take ease and comfort in the cool shade. And for this high privilege the name of Davenport will receive many hearty greetings.

Fifty years ago (1832) we made, our first visit to Black Hawk’s Tower with Col. George Davenport, and listened with intense interest to his recital of scenes that had been enacted there may years before; and one year later had them all repeated, with may more, from the lips of Black Hawk himself. How changed the scene. Then it was in its rustic state, now this fine pavilion, being a long, low structure, built somewhat after the Swiss cottage plan, with broad sloping roofs, and wide, long porches on the north and south sides, the one facing the road and the other fronting the river and giving a view of a beautiful stretch of country up and down Rock river, greatly enhances its beauty and adds much to the comfort of visitors.

The following beautiful word paintings by a recent visitor to the Tower, we take from the Rock Island Union:


Beautiful tower! famous in history
Rich in legend, in old-time mystery, Graced with tales of Indian lore,
Crowned with beauty from summit to shore.

Below, winds the river, silent and still, Nestling so calmly ‘mid island and hill, Above, like warriors, proudly and grand, Tower the forest trees, monarchs of land.

A land mark for all to admire and wonder, With thy history ancient, for nations to ponder, Boldly thou liftest they head to the breeze, Crowned with they plumes, the nodding trees.

Years are now gone–forever more fled, Since the Indians crept, with cat-like tread, With mocasined foot, with eagle eye–
The red men our foes in ambush lie.

The owl, still his nightly vigil keeps, While the river, below him, peacefully sleeps, The whip-poor-will utters his plaintive cry, The trees still whisper, and gently sigh.

The pale moon still creeps from her daily rest, Throwing her rays o’er the river’s dark breast, The katy-did and cricket, I trow,
In days gone by, chirruped, even as now.

Indian! thy camp-fires no longer are smoldering, They bones ‘neath the forest moss long have been mouldering, The “Great Spirit” claims thee. He leadeth they tribe, To new hunting-grounds not won with a bribe.

On thy Watch Tow’r the pale face his home now makes, His dwelling, the site of the forest tree takes, Gone are thy wigwams, the wild deer now fled, Black Hawk, with his tribe, lie silent and dead.

ROCK ISLAND, August 18, 1882.



On the 12th of April, 1832, soon after our arrival at Rock Island on a visit to relatives, (the family of Col. Geo. Davenport) a steamboat came down from Galena with officers to Fort Armstrong, for the purpose of laying in supplies and medical stores for a brigade then being formed at that place. One regiment, composed principally of miners, who had abandoned their mines and came in to offer their services as soldiers in the field, were unanimous in the election of Henry Dodge as Colonel. They had long known him as a worthy, brave and accomplished gentleman, the soul of honor, and hence would be an intrepid soldier.

Among the officers on this trip was Dr. A. K. Philleo, well known to Col. Dodge as a social gentleman, a skilled physician and an accomplished surgeon, who had accepted the position of surgeon at his urgent request, with a _proviso:_ Being editor of the _Galenian,_ (the only paper printed in the town) he considered the position a very important one, as it was the only paper within hundreds of miles of the seat of war, and the only one on the Mississippi above Alton, Ill.; hence he must procure a substitute or decline the appointment of surgeon. Having made his acquaintance after he had learned that we had been engaged in newspaper life, he insisted that we should take a position on the _Galenian_ for a few weeks, or until the close of the war, so that he could accept the offer of Col. Dodge, and seeing that he was a great favorite among the officers, and anxious to go to the field, we accepted the position and accompanied him to Galena the same evening.

Here we found an infantry regiment, commanded by Col. J.M. Strode, composed principally of miners and citizens of Galena, which had been hurriedly organized for home protection, whilst that of Col. Dodge, being well mounted, were making preparations to take the field. After taking charge of the _Galenian_ we made the acquaintance of Col. Strode, and found him to be a whole-souled Kentuckian, who advised us to enroll our name on the company list of Capt. M. M. Maughs, and as our time would mostly be devoted to the paper, he would detail us _Printer to the Regiment,_ by virtue of which appointment we would become an honorary member of his staff. We retained our position on the paper and that on the staff of the Colonel throughout the war, and was made the recipient of dispatches of the regular movement of the army, its skirmishes and battles from officers of the regular army as well as that of the volunteers, from which we made our weekly report, and from these data we have made up most of our history of the war.


Early in April, 1832, Brig.-General Atkinson, with about three hundred troops, was ordered to Fort Armstrong to prevent a threatened war between the Menominees and Fox Indians, on account of a massacre, committed by a band of the latter on a small band of drunken Menominees the previous summer at a point near Fort Crawford. To prevent bloodshed he was directed to demand the murderers of the Foxes; but on arriving at Rock Island he soon learned that there was imminent danger of a war of a different character–that Black Hawk, with his entire band, was then on his way to invade the State of Illinois and would probably be joined by the Pottowattamies and Winnebagoes. In order to ascertain the facts in the case, he called upon the Indian Agent and Col. George Davenport, both located here, and requested them to furnish, in writing, all the information they had in relation to the movements and intentions of Black Hawk in coming to the State of Illinois. Both gentlemen replied to his inquiries immediately as follows:

ROCK ISLAND, April 12, 1832.

My opinion is that the squaws and old men have gone to the Prophet’s town, on Rock river, and the warriors are now only a few miles below the mouth of Rock river, within the limits of the State of Illinois. That these Indians are hostile to the whites there is no doubt. That they have invaded the State of Illinois, to the great injury of her citizens, is equally true. Hence it is that that the public good requires that strong as well as speedy measures should be taken against Black Hawk and his followers.

Respectfully, I have the honor to be your obedient servant, [Signed,] ANDREW S. HUGHES. To Brig-Gen. Atkinson.

ROCK ISLAND, April 13, 1832.

“DEAR SIR:–In reply to your inquiry of this morning, respecting the Indians, I have to state that I have been informed by the man I have wintering with the Indians that the British band of Sac Indians are determined to make war upon the frontier settlements. The British band of Sac Indians did rendezvous at old Fort Madison, and induced a great many of the young men to join them on their arrival at the Yellow Banks. They crossed about five hundred head of horses into the State of Illinois, and sent about seventy horses through the country toward Rock River. The remainder, some on horseback the others in canoes, in a fighting order, advanced up the Mississippi, and were encamped yesterday five or six miles below Rock river and will no doubt endeavor to reach their stronghold in the Rock river swamps if they are not intercepted. From every information that I have received, I am of the opinion that the intentions of the British band of Sac Indians is to commit depredations on the inhabitants of the frontier.”
Respectfully, your obedient servant, GEORGE DAVENPORT.
“To Brig. Gen. Atkinson.”

Being satisfied from the information thus acquired, that there was danger ahead for the small settlements of whites in the Northern portion of the State, he immediately addressed a letter to Gov. Reynolds, of Illinois, from which we take the following:

FORT ARMSTRONG, April 13, 1832.

DEAR SIR:–The band of Sacs, under Black Hawk, joined by about one hundred Kickapoos and a few Pottowattomies, amounting in all to about five hundred men, have assumed a hostile attitude. They crossed the river at the Yellow, Banks on the sixth inst., and are now moving up on the east side of Rock river, towards the Prophet’s village.

“The regular force under my command is too small to justify me in pursuing the hostile party. To make an unsuccessful attempt to coerce them would only irritate them to acts of hostility on the frontier sooner than they probably contemplate.

“Your own knowledge of the character of these Indians, with the information herewith submitted, will enable you to judge of the course proper to pursue. I think the frontier is in great danger, and will use all the means at my disposal to co-operate with you in its protection and defense. With great respect, Your most obedient servant,
Brigadier General of the U. S. Army, His Excellency, Gov. Reynolds, Belleville, Ills.”

On receipt of Gen. Atkinson’s letter, Gov. Reynolds issued his proclamation, calling out a strong detatchment of militia to rendezvous at Beardstown on the 22d of April. In obedience to this command a large number of citizens assembled and offered their services. They were met by Gov. Reynolds, and after bring organized into a brigade, he appointed Brig. Gen. Samuel Whitesides commander. His brigade embraced 1600 horsemen and two hundred footmen–being four regiments and an odd spy battalion.

First regiment, Col. Dewitt; second, Col. Fry; third, Col. Thomas; fourth, Col. Thompson; Col. James D. Henry, commanded the spy battalion.

The troops took up their line of march at once, under command of Gen. Whitesides, accompanied by the Commander-in-Chief, Gov. Reynolds. For the purpose of laying in provisions for the campaign they went to Yellow Banks, on the Mississippi river, where Major S. S. Phelps, who had been appointed quarter master, supplied them. They arrived on the 3d of May, and left for Rock river on the 7th.


About the first of April Black Hawk’s band assembled at Fort Madison for the purpose of making arrangements to ascend the Mississippi, and soon after the entire party started. The old men, women and children, with their provisions and camp equipage, in canoes, and the men all armed, came on horseback. On the sixth day of April, the braves, on horseback, made a call at Yellow Banks, one day after the canoes had passed the same point, and told Josiah Smart, Mr. Phelps’ interpreter, where they were going, and the object of their visit. They said they had observed a great war chief, with a number of troops going up on a steamboat, and thought it likely that the mission of this war chief was to prevent them going up Rock river, but they were bound to go. Messrs. Phelps and Smart tried to persuade them to recross the river and return to their country, assuring them that the Government would not permit them to come into Illinois in violation of the treaty they had made last year, in which they had agreed to remain on the west side of the river. But they would not listen to their advice. On the next day they took up the line of march for Rock river, and on the 10th of April, 1832, Black Hawk, with a portion of his band of Sacs, reached the mouth of Rock river a few miles below Rock Island. The old men, women and children with their provisions and camp equipage, who came up in canoes, arrived on the 9th, and the men all armed, came up on horseback, reaching the camp on the 10th. While encamped there they were joined by the Prophet, who had previously invited them to come up to the country of the Winnebagoes and raise a crop. He called on his way at Fort Armstrong and had talks with the Agent and Col. Davenport, the trader, both of whom advised him to persuade Black Hawk and party to return to their own country, or they would be driven back by the soldiers then at Fort Armstrong, under the command of Gen. Atkinson, who had just arrived. The Prophet would not listen to their advice, but assured Black Hawk that he had a right to go forward with his entire party to the Winnebago country; and as he expected large reinforcements to his little army as he ascended Rock river, he was determined to go forward, but had given positive orders to his band, under no circumstances, to strike a blow until they had been reinforced by warriors from the Winnebagoes and Pottowattomies.

Early next morning they broke camp and started up Rock river, but were soon overtaken by a small detachment of soldiers, who held a council with Black Hawk and communicated to him the orders of Gen. Atkinson. These were for him to return with his band and re-cross the Mississippi. Black Hawk said, as he was not on the war path, but going on a friendly visit to the Prophet’s village, he intended to go forward, and continued on his journey. On receipt of his answer, Gen. Atkinson sent another detachment to Black Hawk with imperative orders for him to return, or he would pursue him with his entire army and drive him back. In reply, Black Hawk said the General had no right to make the order so long as his band was peaceable, and that he intended to go on to the Prophet’s village.

In the meantime the forces under the command of Gen. Whitesides had arrived, and were turned over to Gen. Atkinson by the Governor. The brigade, under the command of Gen. Whitesides, was ordered up Rock river to Dixon’s Ferry, and as soon as boats could be got ready, Gen. Atkinson started for the same destination with 300 regulars and about the same number of Illinois militia. Black Hawk with his party had already reached a point some thirty or forty miles above Dixon’s Ferry, where they were met in council by some Pottowattomies and Winnebago chiefs. They assured Black Hawk that their people would not join him in making war against the United States, and denied the Prophet’s story to him. During this council Black Hawk became convinced that he had been badly imposed upon by the Prophet, and resolved at once to send a flag of truce to Gen. Atkinson and ask permission to descend Rock river, re-cross the Mississippi and go back to their country.


About this time, Gen. Whitesides had concentrated a large force of militia at Dixon’s Ferry, and at the solicitation of Major Stillman, permitted him to take out a scouting party of nearly 300 mounted men. They went up Rock river, about thirty miles to Sycamore creek, and encamped within a few miles of Black Hawk’s camp, but were not aware of its position at the time. Indian scouts having intercepted their coming reported at once to Black Hawk that a large army of mounted militia were coming towards his camp; and before the volunteers had entirely completed their arrangements for encampment, outside guards espied three Indians coming in with a white flag. After holding a parley with them, (one of the guards being able to talk a little with them in their own language), they were hurried into camp, and before any explanations were made, the flag bearer was shot and instantly killed, whilst his comrades made their escape during the confusion in getting the regiment ready to pursue the fleeing Indians. These had secreted themselves in ambush as the army rushed by, helter skelter, after another small party of Indians who had followed the flag bearers, and who, when hearing the uproar in camp made a hasty retreat. The entire regiment was soon mounted and started out in squads towards the camp of Black Hawk. The latter having learned by a scout that the army was coming, started at once with less than fifty mounted warriors, his entire force then in camp, to meet the enemy, and on arriving at a copse of timber and underbrush near Sycamore creek, made ready to meet them.

Capt. Eads’ company, who were the first to start out, killed two of the five fleeing Indians. Soon after crossing Sycamore creek they were surprised by a terrific war whoop from the Indians, who were concealed in the bushes near by, and with deadly aim commenced firing into the front ranks of the regiment, and with unearthly yells (as one of the fleeing party told us on arriving at Galena), charged upon our ranks, with tomahawks raised, ready to slaughter all who might come within their reach. Judging from the yelling of the Indians, their number was variously estimated at from one thousand to two thousand.

The entire party was thrown into such confusion that Major Stillman had no control of any of them, and, with one exception, the entire army continued their flight to Dixon’s Ferry, thirty miles distant, whilst some went back to their homes.

The retreating army passed through their camping ground near Sycamore creek, where they should have halted, and under cover of the timber, could have shot down their pursuers while yet in open prairie. Black Hawk and a small portion of his command gave up the chase, and returned to his camp, while the remainder pursued the fugitives for several miles, occasionally overtaking and killing some soldiers, whose horses had given out.

Among the retreating party was a Methodist preacher, whose horse was too slow to keep out of the reach of the Indians, who adopted a novel plan to save himself and horse. On coming to a ravine he left the track of his pursuers name distance, and followed down the ravine until he found a place deep enough to shelter himself and horse from view, and remained there for two hours in safety. He had the precaution to keep a strict count of the Indians as they went forward, and waited their return. Being satisfied that all had returned and continued on the way to their camp, he quietly left his hiding place, trotted leisurely along and reached Dixon’s Ferry about sunrise next morning.

He reported his mode of procedure and the strategy used to render his safety certain from the Indians who had dispersed and driven the army before them. He was interrogated into the number, and when he reported TWENTY, great indignation was manifested by some of the _brave_ volunteers who had got into camp some hours before him, and reported the number at fifteen hundred to two thousand! But as he was well known to many of the volunteers and highly respected as a meek and lowly Christian gentleman, they stood by him and prevented any personal violence.

When the report of this fiasco came into Galena the next morning about 8 o’clock, on the 15th of May, our regiment was immediately called to arms, as great danger was apprehended by the citizens. The general supposition was that the Pottowattomies and Winnebagoes had joined Black Hawk, it being well known that his entire band, including women and children, that had gone up Rock river, did not exceed one thousand persons. Dwellings were vacated and most of the inhabitants repaired to the stockades for safety.

The news of Stillman’s defeat “by 2,000 blood-thirsty Indian warriors” spread fast, far and wide, and the Governor of Illinois called for more volunteers; and when the news reached Washington, the Secretary of War ordered Gen. Scott, then at New York, to take a thousand soldiers and proceed to the seat of war and take command of the army.

This violation of a flag of truce, the wanton murder of its bearers, and the attack upon a mere remnant of Black Hawk’s band when sueing for peace, precipitated a war that should have been avoided.

[In confirmation of the dastardly act of the volunteers in killing the bearer of a white flag, and by which the war was precipitated, we give the following letter of Mr. Elijah Kilbourn, one of the scouts connected with Stillman’s command. Mr. K. is the man Black Hawk makes mention of in his narrative as having been taken captive during our last war with Great Britain, and by him adopted into the Sac tribe; and again taken prisoner by three of his braves at the battle of Sycamore creek.]



[From the Soldier’s Cabinet.]

Much has been said both for and against the Indian character; but we doubt whether greater or nobler qualities have ever been exhibited in the conduct of civilized rulers or commanders than are shown in the incidents we are about to relate concerning Black Hawk, whose deeds upon the northwestern frontier will render his name illustrious while history exists.

Elijah Kilbourn, the subject of the great chieftain’s kindness, and to whom we are indebted for the present sketch, was a native of Pennsylvania. Just before the outbreak of the late war with Great Britain, he left the place of his birth to join the stirring scenes of adventure on the borders; and although now an old man, he still remembers, and loves to recount, the deed, and perils of his younger days, and especially those we are about to record.

“We had been,” commenced Kilbourn, in whose own language the story shall be given, “scouting through the country that lay about Fort Stephenson, when early one morning one of our number came in with the intelligence that the Fort was besieged by a combined force of British and Indians. We were very soon after in our saddles, bearing down with all speed in that direction for the express purpose of joining in the fight–but on arriving, we found that the enemy had been signally repulsed by the brave little garrison under the command of Major Crogan. Our disappointment at learning this was, however, in a measure lessened, when we learned that Black Hawk, the leader of the savages, had, soon after the termination of the battle, gone with some twenty of his warriors back to his village on Rock river, whither we instantly determined to follow him.

“At sunrise the next morning we were on his trail, and followed it with great care to the banks of a stream. Here we ascertained that the savages had separated into nearly equal parties–the one keeping straight down the banks of the stream, while the other had crossed to the other side and continued on toward Rock river. A council was now held, in which the oldest members of our party gave it as their opinion that Black Hawk had changed his intention of going to his village, and had, with the greater part of his followers, pursued his way down the stream, while the rest had been sent by him for some purpose to the town. In this opinion all coincided; but still our leader, who was a very shrewd man, had some doubts on his mind concerning the movements of the chief, and therefore, to make everything sure, he detailed four of us to follow the trail across the stream, while he with the rest, some seven or eight in number, immediately took the one down the bank.

“We soon after found ourselves alone and in the vicinity of Indian settlements, and we were therefore obliged to move with the utmost caution, which had the effect of rendering our progress extremely slow. During the course of the following morning we came across a great many different trails and by these we were so perplexed that we resolved to return to the main body; but from the signs we had already seen we knew that such a step would be attended with the greatest risk, and so it was at last decided that it would be far more safe for all hands to separate, and each man look out for himself. This resolve was no sooner made than it was put into execution, and a few minutes later found me alone in the great wilderness. I had often been so before, but never before had I been placed in a situation as dangerous as the present one, for now on all sides I was surrounded by foes, who would rejoice in the shedding of my blood. But still I was not gong to give up easily, and looking well to my weapons and redoubling my caution, I struck off at an angle from the course I had first chosen, why I hardly knew.

“I encountered nothing very formidable till some two hours before sunset, when, just as I emerged from a tangled thicket, I perceived an Indian on his knees at a clear, sparkling spring, from which he was slaking his thirst. Instinctively I placed my rifle to my shoulder, drew a bead upon the savage and pulled the trigger. Imagine, if you can, my feelings as the flint came down and was shivered to pieces while the priming remained unignited.

“The next moment the savage was up on his feet, his piece levelled directly at me and his finger pressing the trigger. There was no escape; I had left my horse in the woods some time before. The thicket behind me was too dense to permit me to enter it again quickly, and there was no tree within reach of sufficient size to protect me from the aim of my foe, who, now finding me at his mercy, advanced, his gun still in its threatening rest, and ordered me to surrender. Resistance and escape were alike out of the question, and I accordingly delivered myself up his prisoner, hoping by some means or other to escape at some future period. He now told me, in good English, to proceed in a certain direction. I obeyed him, and had not gone a stone’s throw before, just as I turned a thick clump of trees, I came suddenly upon an Indian camp, the one to which my captor undoubtedly belonged.

“As we came up all the savages, some six or eight in number, rose quickly and appeared much surprised at my appearing thus suddenly amongst their umber; but they offers d me no harm, and they behaved with most marked respect to my captor, whom, upon a close inspection, I recognized to be Black Hawk himself.

“‘The White mole digs deep, but Makataimeshekiakiak (Black Hawk) flies high and can see far off,’ said the chieftain is a deep, gutteral tone, addressing me.

“He then related to his followers the occasion of my capture, and as he did so they glared on me fiercely and handled their weapons in a threatening manner, but at the conclusion of his remarks they appeared better pleased, although I was the recipient of many a passing frown. He now informed me that he had told his young men that they were to consider me a brother, as he was going to adopt me into the tribe.

“This was to me but little better than death itself, but there was no alternative and so I was obliged to submit, with the hope of making my escape at some future time. The annunciation of Black Hawk, moreover, caused me great astonishment, and after pondering the matter I was finally forced to set down as its cause one of those unaccountable whims to which the savage temperment is often subject.

“The next morning my captors forced me to go with them to their village on Rock river, where, after going through a tedious ceremony, I was dressed and painted, and thus turned from a white man into an Indian.

“For nearly three years ensuing it was my constant study to give my adopted brothers the slip, but during the whole of that time I was so carefully watched and guarded that I never found an opportunity to escape.

“However, it is a long lane that has no turning, and so it proves in my case. Pretending to be well satisfied with my new mode of life, I at last gained upon the confidence of the savages, and one day when their vigilance was considerably relaxed, I made my escape and returned in safety to my friends, who had mourned for me as dead.

“Many years after this I was a participant in the battle at Sycamore Creek, which, as you know, is a tributary of Rock river. I was employed by the government as a scout, in which capacity it was acknowledged that I had no superior; but I felt no pride in hearing myself praised, for I knew I was working against Black Hawk, who, although he was an Indian, had once spared my life, and I was one never to forget a kindness. And besides this I had taken a great liking to him, for there was something noble and generous in his nature. However, my first duty was to my country, and I did my duty at all hazards.

“Now you must know that Black Hawk, after moving west of the Mississippi, had recrossed, contrary to his agreement, not, however, from any hostile motive, but to raise a crop of corn and beans with the Pottowattomies and Winnebagoes, of which his own people stood in the utmost need. With this intention he had gone some distance up Rock river, when an express from General Atkinson ordered him peremptorily to return. This order the old chief refused to obey, saying that the General had no right to issue it. A second express from Atkinson threatened Black Hawk that if he did not return peaceably, force would be resorted to. The aged warrior became incensed at this and utterly refused to obey the mandate, but at the same time sent word to the General that he would not be the first one to commence hostilities.

“The movement of the renowned warrior was immediately trumpeted abroad as an invasion of the State, and with more rashness thin wisdom, Governor Reynolds ordered the Illinois militia to take the field, and these were joined by the regulars, under General Atkinson, at Rock Island. Major Stillman, having under his command two hundred and seventy-five mounted men, the chief part of whom were volunteers, while a few like myself were regular scouts, obtained leave of General Whitesides, then lying at Dixon’s Ferry, to go on a scouting expedition.

“I knew well what would follow; but still, as I was under orders, I was obliged to obey, and together with the rest proceeded some thirty miles up Rock river to where Sycamore creek empties into it. This brought us to within six or eight miles of the camp of Black Hawk, who, on that day–May 14th-was engaged in preparing a dog feast for the purpose of fitly celebrating a contemplated visit of some Pottawattomie chiefs.

“Soon after preparing to camp we saw three Indians approach us bearing a white flag; and these, upon coming up, were made prisoners. A second deputation of five were pursued by some twenty of our mounted militia, and two of them killed, while the other three escaped. One of the party that bore the white flag was, out of the most cowardly vindictiveness, shot down while standing a prisoner in camp. The whole detachment, after these atrocities, now bore down upon the camp of Black Hawk, whose braves, with the exception of some forty or fifty, were away at a distance.

“As we rode up, a galling and destructive fire was poured in upon us by the savages, who, after discharging their guns, sprung from their coverts on either side, with their usual horrible yells, and continued the attack with their tomahawks and knives. My comrades fell around me like leaves; and happening to cast my eyes behind me, I beheld the whole detachment of militia flying from the field. Some four or five of us were left unsupported in the very midst of the foe, who, renewing their yells, rushed down upon us in a body. Gideon Munson and myself were taken prisoners, while others were instantly tomahawked and scalped. Munson, during the afternoon, seeing, as he supposed, a good opportunity to escape, recklessly attempted to do so, but was immediately shot down by his captor. And I now began to wish that they would serve me in the same manner, for I knew that if recognized by the savages, I should be put to death by the most horrible tortures. Nothing occurred, however, to give me any real uneasiness upon this point till tile following morning, when Black Hawk, passing by me, turned and eyed me keenly for a moment or so. Then, stepping close to me, he said in a low tone: _’Does the mole think that Black Hawk forgets?’_

“Stepping away with a dignified air, he now left me, as you may well suppose, bordering in despair, for I knew too well the Indian character to imagine for a single instant that my life would be spared under the circumstances. I had been adopted into the tribe by Black Hawk, had lived nearly three years among them, and by escaping had incurred their displeasure, which could only be appeased with my blood. Added to this, I was now taken prisoner at the very time that the passions of the savages were most highly wrought upon by tile mean and cowardly conduct of the whites. I therefore gave up all hope, and doggedly determined to meet stoically my fate.

“Although the Indians passed and repassed me many times during the day, often bestowing on me a buffet or a kick, yet not one of them seemed to remember me as having formerly been one of the tribe. At times this infused me with a faint hope, which was always immediately after extinguished, as I recalled to mind my recognition by Black Hawk himself.

“Some two hours before sunset Black Hawk again came to where I was bound, and having loosened the cords with which I was fastened to a tree, my arms still remaining confined, bade me follow him. I immediately obeyed him, not knowing what was to be my doom, though I expected none other than death by torture. In silence we left the encampment, not one of the savages interfering with us or offering me the slightest harm or indignity. For nearly an hour we strode on through the gloomy forest, now and then starting from its retreat some wild animal that fled upon our approach. Arriving at a bend of the river my guide halted, and turning toward the sun, which was rapidly setting, he said, after a short pause:

“‘I am going to send you back to your chief, though I ought to kill you for running away a long time ago, after I had adopted you as a son–but Black Hawk can forgive as well as fight. When you return to your chief I want you to tell him all my words. Tell him that Black Hawk’s eyes have looked upon many sum, but they shall not see many more; and that his back is no longer straight, as in his youth, but is beginning to bend with age. The Great Spirit has whispered among the tree tops in the morning and evening and says that Black Hawk’s days are few, and that he is wanted in the spirit land. He is half dead, his arm shakes and is no longer strong, and his feet are slow on the war path. Tell him all this, and tell him, too,’ continued the untutored hero of the forest, with trembling emotion and marked emphasis, ‘that Black Hawk would have been a friend to the whites, but they would not let him, and that the hatchet was dug up by themselves and not by the Indians. Tell your chief that Black Hawk meant no harm to the pale faces when he came across the Mississippi, but came peaceably to raise corn for his starving women and children, and that even then he would have gone back, but when he sent his white flag the braves who carried it were treated like squaws and one of them inhumanly shot. Tell him too,’ he concluded with terrible force, while his eyes fairly flashed fire, _’that Black Hawk will have revenge,_ and that he will never stop until the Great Spirit shall say to him, _’come away.’_

“Thus saying he loosened the cord that bound my arms, and after giving me particular directions as to the best course to pursue to my own camp, bade me farewell and struck off into the trackless forest, to commence that final struggle which was decided against the Indians.

“After the war was over, and the renowned Black Hawk had been taken prisoner, he was sent to Washington and the largest cities of the seaboard, that he might be convinced how utterly useless it was for him to contend against fate. It was enough, and the terrible warrior returned to the seclusion of his wilderness home, while the scepter of his chieftainship was given to the celebrated Keokuk.

“On the occasion of the ceremony by which Black Hawk was shorn of his power, and which took place on Rock Island, in the Mississippi, I shook the hand of the great chief, who appeared highly pleased to meet me once more; and upon parting with me he said with mournful dignity, as he cast above him a glance of seeming regret: ‘My children think I am too old to lead them any more!’

“This was the last time I ever saw him; and the next I learned of him was that he had left his old hunting grounds forever, and his spirit had gone to that bar where the balance will be rightly adjusted between the child of the forest and his pale face brethren.”

Although the Winnebagoes and the Pottowattomies had resolved to take no part in the war, a few young men from each of these tribes, being emboldened by Black Hawk’s victory in the engagement with Stillman’s regiment, concluded to join him. As the party moved up the river, war parties were sent out, in one of which the Winnebagoes joined, whilst the Pottowattomies, some twenty-five or thirty, went alone on the war path into a settlement that had been made on Indian creek, not far from its entrance into Fox river, and killed fifteen men, women and children, and took two young ladies prisoners, the Misses Hall, whom two young Sacs, who had just rode up, took upon their horses and carried them to a Winnebago camp, with a request that they be delivered to the whites. They were returned soon after, and to the writer said they had been well treated by the Winnebagoes.

On the 19th of Jane a message came into Galena from Kellogg’s Grove, with a report that a party of Indians had been seen in that neighborhood and that they had stolens some horses. Captain James Stephenson, with twelve picked men from his company, started immediately in pursuit of the Indians. On seeing him approach they took to the brush, when the Captain and his men dismounted. Leaving one to hold the horses, the balance entered the thicket, and two of them were killed at the first fire of the Indians, while three of the enemy were laid prostrate. For the purpose of re-loading, Capt. Stephenson ordered a retreat, which was a bad move, as it gave the Indians time to re-load and seek trees for safety. Capt. Stephenson* and party again advanced, both parties firing simultaneously, each losing a man, when an Indian who had been secreted behind a tree rushed forward with his knife, but was suddenly checked by one of the soldiers running his bayonet through him. While in this position he seized the bayonet with both hands and had almost succeeded in pushing it out, when another soldier rushed forward, and with one stroke of his knife almost severed the head from his body. In this engagement Capt. S. lost three of the best men of his company and the Indians five, just one-half of their number.

* Capt. Stephenson was held in high estimation as a brave and accomplished gentleman, and at the organization of Rock Island county the county commissioners honored his name by calling the county seat Stephenson, which name it retained until after his death, when that of Rock Island was adopted.

On the return of Capt. Stephenson and party the news of his loss of three men, who were well known and highly respected, soon spread over town and caused much sorrow among their many friends. After learning the mode of attack, military men generally criticized it severely.


On the 14th of June, a mall scouting party of Sacs killed five men at the Spafford farm, and on reception of the news next day, Gen. Atkinson ordered Col. Henry Dodge to take command of Posey’s bigade, then stationed near Fort Hamilton, and while on his way from Fort Union, where his regiment was in camp, to visit the brigade, he heard the sharp crack of a rifle, and instantly looking in the direction of the sound, saw a man fall from his horse, who had been shot by Indians nearby. Instead of going forward as he set out to do, he hastily returned to his command, mustered a portion of his cavalry and went in pursuit of the Indians, and soon got on the trail of twenty-five warriors, who had commenced their retreat soon after shooting, and espying him, hastened back to the front. The Indians crossed and recrossed the Pecatonica river several times, being closely pushed by Col. Dodge and his men, and finding escape hopeless, made a stand. The colonel immediately dismounted his men and picked his way cautiously, with the intention of firing and then charging upon them. But the Indians, being on the lookout, watched their opportunity and got the first fire, by which a brave soldier named Apple was killed, and another by the name of Jenkins was wounded. The fight continued vigorously until the last Indian was killed, several of them having been shot while trying to escape by swimming. At the commencement of the fight, the forces on each side were nearly equal, but the Indians, in swimming the river, had got their powder wet, and although they made desperate efforts to close in on our men with knives, they were shot down in their endeavors.

Col. Dodge, in speaking of this engagement, at Galena, after the close of the war, said he was amazed at the desperation displayed by a big, burly brave, who came towards him with gun at his shoulder and halted quickly when only a few paces from him, drew the trigger, and was sorely disappointed in his gun not going off. Quick as thought the colonel brought his rifle in position, pulled the trigger, but, owing to the dampness of the powder, it failed to go off. In the meantime the brave was coming towards him, knife in hand and desperation in his eye, and when only a few feet from him the colonel shot him down with his revolver. At the same time one of his brave boys, by the name of Beach, was engaged in a desperate encounter with the last remaining savage, in which both used knives; the Indian was killed and Beach very badly wounded.

Thus ended one of the most sanguinary engagements of the war.


Capt. A.W. Snyder’s Company, of Col. Henry’s Regiment, was detailed to guard the country between Galena and Fox and Rock rivers, and was surprised on the night of the 17th of June, while encamped in the vicinity of Burr Oak Grove. His sentinels, while on duty, were fired upon by Indians, who did not deem it prudent to continue the attack, but immediately fled. As soon as it was light enough next morning to follow their trail, Capt. Snyder started with his company, but on reaching their camp, found that they had fled on his approach. He redoubled his speed and continued on their trail until he overtook them. Finding that there was no escape, the Indians got into a deep gully for protection, but were soon surrounded, when Capt. Snyder ordered his men to charge upon them. The Indians fired as they approached and mortally wounded one of his men, Mr. William B. Mekemson, a brave volunteer from St. Clair county, (whose father’s family afterwards settled in this, Henderson county, all of whom, except one brother, Andrew, a highly respected Christian gentleman, have, long since, gone to meet their kinsman in another world.) Mr. M. being unable to ride, a rude litter was made and men detailed to carry him back to camp, at Kellogg’s Grove. The company had not proceeded far before they were attacked by about seventy-five Indians, and two men, Scott and McDaniel, killed, and a Mr. Cornelius wounded. The company was soon formed into line by the aid of Gen. Whiteside, who was then acting merely as a private, and using the precaution of Indians, each man got behind a tree, and the battle waxed furiously for sometime without any serious results, until the Indian commander was seen to fall, from the well directed aim of Gen. Whiteside’s rifle. Having now no leader the Indians ingloriously fled, but for some reason were not pursued. Our reporter, however, said that most of the company refused, for the reason that the second term of their enlistment had expired, and they were anxious to be mustered out of service, although the officers were eager to pursue.

The company then commenced their march to camp, and on approaching the litter on which Mekemson lay, found that the Indians had cut off his head and rolled it down the hill. Soon after, Major Riley, with a small force of regulars, came up, and after consultation with Capt. Snyder, it was deemed best not to follow the retreating Indians, as their route probably led to the main army of Black Hawk.


On the 23d of June scouts came into Galena, and reported at headquarters that a large body of Indians had been seen about thirty miles distant, but not being on the march, they were not able to conjecture to what point they were going. Col. Strode immediately made all necessary preparations to receive them, should Galena be the point of attack, and dispatched an express early next morning for Dixon’s Ferry. On their arrivall at Apple River Fort they halted for a short time, and then proceeded on their journey, and while yet in sight, at the crack of a gun the foremost man was seen to fall from his horse and two or three Indians rushed upon him with hatchets raised ready to strike, while his comrades galloped up, and with guns pointed towards the Indians kept them at bay until the wounded man reached the Fort. But had the Indians known these guns were _not loaded,_ (as afterwards reported) they could have dispatched all three of them with their tomahawks.

In a very short time after hearing the crack of the gun a large body of Indians surrounded the fort, yelling and shooting, when the inmates, under command of Capt. Stone, prepared for defence, every port hole being manned by sharp-shooters. One man, Mr. George Herclurode, was shot through a port hole and instantly killed, and Mr. James Nutting wounded in the same way, but not seriously; which was the only loss sustained during the engagement of more than one hour’s duration. A number of Indians were wounded and carried off the field. Capt. Stone had only twenty-five men, with a large number of women and children in the fort, but had providentially received a quantity of lead and provisions from Galena only an hour before the attack, and as he was short of bullets, the ladies of the fort busied themselves in melting lead and running balls as long as the battle lasted. Black Hawk, finding the fort impregnable from assault without firing it–an act that he well knew would, in a very short time, have brought a large body of troops on his path–concluded that it would be better to return and carry with them all the flour they could, killed a number of cattle and took choice pieces of beef, and all the homes that were in the stable. One of the expressmen, not deeming the fort a place of safety, hurried back to Galena, but getting lost on the way did not get in until early next morning. On hearing the news, Col. Strode took one hundred picked men, well mounted, and went to the relief of the fort, and was much gratified to find that its noble defenders had put to flight about one hundred and fifty Indians who had been under the command of Black Hawk himself.


After leaving Apple River Fort, being well supplied with provisions, the Indians moved leisurely toward the fort at Kellogg’s Grove, with the intention of taking it, as scouts had come in and reported that it was not very strongly garrisoned on the day pevious to their arrival on the 23d of June. At this time the Illinois troops were rendez- voused at a place known as Fort Wilbourn on the Illinois river, at or near where now stands the city of LaSalle. What was then called the new levy, after Stillman’s defeat, were assembled there, numbering about three thousand men, being formed into military organizations consisting of three brigades. The first brigade was commanded by Gen. Alexander Posey. The second by Gen. M. K. Alexander, and the third by Gen. James D. Henry. Major John Dement, of Vandalia, was elected to the command of a spy battalion composed of three companies. Gen. Atkinson, of the United States Regulars, commanding, while these organizations were progressing.

The Indians had made a raid on Bureau creek, situated between the Illinois and Rock rivers. John Dement had been chosen major by the members of three companies of Gen. Posey’s brigade, which was a spy battalion. The Major’s battalion being ready for duty when the news reached the fort of the attack upon the settles on Bureau creek, it was ordered to march at once to the scene of danger for protection of the settlers, and to discover and watch the movements of the Indians, if possible. The Major was ordered to scour the country through to Rock river, and then to report to Col. Zackary Taylor, who commanded a small force of United States troops at a small fortification at Dixon’s Ferry on Rock river.

On the 22d of June, 1832, Major Dement reached Colonel Taylor’s command, having performed the duties to which he was assigned by General Atkinson. On his arrival Colonel Taylor informed the Major that he had arrived at an opportune time, as he wished him to take his command, swim their horses across the river, and promptly occupy the country between his position and the Lead Mines at Galena, a distance of about sixty miles, with headquarters at Kellogg’s Grove, thirty- seven miles in the direction of Galena and Apple River Fort. There had been stationed at the grove two companies of Regulars, commanded by Major Riley, and three companies of Volunteers that had abandoned this position the day before the arrival of Major Dement, and left the country without protection and entirely unguarded. These troops had been engaged in two or three skirmishes with the Indians, and according to the reports of the soldiers, had been worsted in each. Major Dement’s command numbered one hundred and forty men, all told, not one of whom had ever seen any military experience, but they were men to be relied upon. They were citizen soldiers, brave and intelligent, equal to any emergency, and had no superiors in the service. This being an odd battalion, Major Dement was entitled to the staff of a Colonel. His staff was composed of Zadoc Casey, Paymaster; —— Anderson, Colonel Hicks, and others. The Captains of the companies, and the staff officers, were leading citizens, who had, at short warning, left their several avocations to engage in defending the country against the attacks of the Indians.


On the evening of the second day, after crossing Rock river, the Major’s command marched to the stockade at Kellogg’s Grove and encamped. In the morning, learning that Indian traces had been seen four or five miles from the grove, twenty-five volunteers were called for to go out and reconnoitre. This number was quickly filled, nearly every one volunteering being an officer, and, as it afterward turned out, they were unfortunately accepted. These volunteers had not yet gotten out of sight of their camp, before three Indians were seen on their ponies between the fort and a small grove on the prairie, riding backward and forward. The reconnoitreing party started after them in one, two and three order, according to the speed of their horses, while the Indians made straight for the small grove. Major Dement, who was watching the movements of the volunteers from his camp, and seeing the movements of the Indians, at once suspected a trap, mounted with a portion of his men, and went to their aid. His men that had first started were a mile out upon the prairie in pursuit of those few Indians. Being well mounted, the Major and his relief party soon overtook the hindermost of the little band, but several were too far in advance in their mad pursuit of the fleeing Indians for him to reach them in time. The fleeing Indians were making for a grove some three miles away, hotly pursued by the Major’s men. In this grove, as the commander feared, a large number of the Indians were concealed. When within four or five hundred yards of this grove he halted and dismounted his men and formed them in line. Some six or seven of his men were still in advance following the Indians toward this grove. On nearing the grove, his men who were in advance, were received with a galling fire, which killed two and wounded a third. With hideous yells the Indians emerged from the grove and rapidly approached. They were all mounted, stripped to their waists and painted for battle. As they reached the bodies of the dead soldiers, a large number surrounded them, clubbing and stabbing their lifeless remains. A volley from the rifles of the whites killed two or three at this point, but by the time the last of the little band had reached the ridge upon which their comrades were drawn up in line, the Indians were close upon them and on both flanks. At this point three men who had been out of their camp hunting for their homes, came in sight and were massacred in sight of their friends. The main portion of the battalion had been ordered to hold themselves in readiness for any emergency, but hearing the yelling, instead of obeying the order, mounted in hot haste and started to the rescue of their companions. On discovering the force of the Indians, they retreated to the grove, and almost neck and neck with the Indians, sprang over their horses and occupied the Block House.

On the least exposed side of the Fort was a work bench; over this the Major threw the bridle rein of his horse, and most of the horses huddled around this as if conscious of their danger. The Indians swarmed around the Block House under cover; an ominous stillness pervaded the air, which was soon broken by the crack of the rifles of the white men. The best marksmen with the best guns were stationed at the port holes, and a lively fire was kept up by the little garrison. The Indians finding that they were making no impression, turned their attention to shooting the horses, twenty-five of which they succeeded in killing. After sharp firing for two hours they retreated, leaving nine of their men dead on the field. This was the first engagement in this war, in which the whites had held their position until reinforcements arrived, without retreating. If the main force had remained in the grove at this Block House after the volunteers went out, without making any demonstration when the Indians came charging up and still in the open prairie, they could have been easily repulsed. This was the Major’s plan of action, but the men became excited by the firing, and having no commissioned officers to guide them, started without order to assist their exposed comrades in the open prairie, when they were flying for their lives to the block house.

That evening Gen. Posey came up with his brigade, and although the Indians were encamped a short distance away, he made no effort to attack them but contented himself with reporting the situation to Col. Z. Taylor at Dixon’s Ferry. Gen. Whiteside had said to Major Dement before crossing Rock river, that he was going into the Indian rendezvous, where he could have an Indian for breakfast every morning, and he found it literally true.

It seems strange that Major Dement should have been ordered by Col. Taylor into the enemy’s country, across Rock river, with so small a force of volunteers, while a large force of Regulars and Volunteers, commanded by regular United States officers, remained securely entrenched in the rear. It was Major Dement’s opinion that there were more fighting men of Black Hawk’s band of warriors in the engagement at Kellogg’s Grove than ever afterwards made a stand during the war. It was easy for Gen. Posey to have moved up and attacked the Indians on his arrival at the Grove, and then have dealt them a fatal blow by forcing them to battle then, but he refused to do so, and the war was not terminated until the fight at Bad Axe some two months later, in which the Illinois troops did not engage. During this engagement at the Block House, four whites and eleven Indians were killed. The whites lost a large part of their horses–the Indians shooting them from the timber, while the poor animals were huddled about the Block House.

Although in command, Black Hawk remained in the Grove doing the engagement, looking on to see that his principal aid, whose voice was like a trumpet call, carried out his orders.

While reciting the incidents of this battle to the author, when writing his Autobiography, Black Hawk spoke in high praise of Major Dement as a commander, who had shown not only good military skill in coming to the rescue of his party, but in withdrawing his little party to the Fort.
After Dement’s engagement General Posey’s brigade started for Fort Hamilton and remained there a short time. News of Dement’s engagement and march of Posey’s brigade having been received at Dixon’s Ferry, where the two other brigades were stationed, Gen. Alexander, with the 2d brigade was ordered to cross Rock river and march to Plum river to intercept the Indians, as it was deemed probable that they would make for that point to cross the Mississippi. Gen. Atkinson, with regulars, and Gen. Fry with his brigade, remained at Dixon waiting for news of the route taken by the Indians. Next day Capt. Walker and three Pottowottamie Indians came into Dixon and reported seventy-five Pottowottamies ready to join the army now encamped at Sycamore creek, and they were afraid that Black Hawk and his army was not far off. For their protection, and to await the coming of the balance of the second brigade, Col. Fry, of Henry’s brigade, was sent forward immediately. The next morning Gen. Henry’s brigade moved forward with Gen. Atkinson at the head, intending to march up Rock river, to the Four Lakes, and camped at Stillwell’s battle-ground the first night and joined Col. Fry and his Pottowottamie Indians on the 29th, and continued their march. On the 30th, when going into camp, they saw signs of Sac Indians, but the sentinels were undisturbed during the night. The next day they saw one Indian, but he was on the other side of Plum river. On the 2d of July, Major Ewing being in front, spied a fresh trail, and soon after came upon the fresh trail of Black Hawk’s entire force, at a point near Keeshkanawy Lake. Scouts from the battalion came up to Black Hawk’s encampment, from which they had apparently taken their departure a few days before. Here they found five white men’s scalps which had been left hung up to dry. This battalion continued to march around the lake in detachments, one of which found where there had been another encampment, but on returning to camp and comparing notes they began to despair of finding the main body of Black Hawk’s army in that region. On the 5th of July, Gen. Atkinson with his army took a rest. During the day some scouts brought in an old Indian nearly blind and half famished with hunger, whom the Indians had left in their flight. After eating, Gen. Atkinson questioned him closely as to the whereabouts of Black Hawk and his army, but was satisfied from his replies and helpless condition, that he did not know, but on taking up his line of march the near morning, Gen. Atkinson did not leave him as the Indians had done, alone and without any means of subsistence, but left him an abundance of food, and as we afterwards learned, the old man recruited and afterwards got back to his tribe.,

On the evening of the 9th the army encamped at White Water, and the next morning Indians were seen on the other side of this stream which was not fordable, one of whom shot and wounded a regular. After breaking camp, Gen. Atkinson ordered a move up the river, and that night camped with his entire force–all having met at the same point. Gen. Dodge’s corps had taken a Winnebago prisoner and brought him into camp for the purpose of finding out if he knew where Black Hawk’s forces were. He said they were encamped on an island near Burnt Village. Col. William S. Hamilton, a brave and honored son of Alexander Hamilton, in command of a company of Menomonees, who had joined the main army the day before, with Captain Early and his command, after scouring the island thoroughly, reported there were no Indians on the island.

Governor Reynolds, who had been on the march up Rock River with his volunteers and the main army, together with Colonel Smith, Major Sidney Breese and Colonel A. P. Field, left the army and came into Galena on the 12th, from whom we obtained our information of the movements of the army. They were firmly of the opinion that the Indians had taken to the swamps, and gotten entirely out of reach of the army, and that no farther danger need be apprehended. Colonel Field, who is an eloquent speaker, at the solicitation of Colonel Strode, although nearly worn out with hard marches, made an able and soul-stirring speech to our regiment, and a large number of the inhabitants of Galena.

At this time the army was nearly out of provisions, and Fort Winnebago, about seventy-five miles distant, the nearest point at which they could replenish. General Atkinson then ordered General Posey with his brigade, to Fort Hamilton, General Henry’s and Alexander’s brigade and General Dodge’s squadron to Fort Winnebago for provisions; and sent General Ewing and his regiment to Dixon with Colonel Dunn, who had been seriously wounded by one of his own sentinels, but who afterwards recovered. General Atkinson then built a fort near the camping ground, which was Fort Keeshkanong. General Alexander returned on the 15th with provisions to the fort, while Generals Dodge and Henry thought best to go with their commands to the head of Fox river, and while on the way stopped at a Winnebago village and had a talk with their head men, who assured them that Black Hawk was then at Cranberry Lake, a point higher up Rock river. After a consultation by the Generals, it was deemed best to send an express to General Atkinson at Fort Keeshkanong, to let him know of the information they had got, and their intention of moving on the enemy the next morning. Dr. Merryman, of Colonel Collins’ regiment, and Major Woodbridge, Adjutant of General Dodge’s corps, volunteered to go, and with Little Thunder, a Winnebago chief, as pilot, started out to perform this dangerous service, and after traveling a few miles, came on fresh Indian trails, which Little Thunder pronounced to have been made by Black Hawk’s party, and fearing that they would be intercepted, insisted on returning to camp. Night was then approaching, and having no guide to lead them forward, they reluctantly followed Little Thunder back to camp. Orders were then given for an early move next morning, and at daylight the bugle sounded, and the army moved onwards. The trail was followed for two days, leading for Four Lakes. On the second day, July 21st, scouts from General Dodge’s corps came in and reported Indians, and as a confirmation of the fact, Dr. A.K. Philleo exhibited a scalp that he had taken from the head of one that he had shot. Dr. Philleo was brave as the bravest, and whenever a scouting party started out to look for Indians (unless his services were required in camp), was always in the lead, and this being his first Indian, took his scalp, and sent it to the writer, with written instructions how to preserve it. To this end we handed over both to a deaf and dumb printer in the office, who boasted somewhat of his chemical knowledge, who spent considerable time for a number of days in following the Doctor’s instructions. After the killing of this Indian, some of the scouts discovered fresh signs of more Indians, and after pursuing it for some miles, Dr. Philleo and his friend Journey, equally as brave, being in the lead, espied two more Indians, when each picked his man and fired, and both fell; one of them, although badly wounded, fired as he fell, and wounded one of the scouts. The Doctor’s attention was now directed to his wounded companion, hence his second Indian was allowed to retain his scalp.

The scouts, finding that the trail was fresh, and the Indians were rapidly retreating, having strewed their trail with camp equipage, in order to facilitate their movements, sent an express back to camp, when the army hastily took up the line of march, with Dodge’s corps and Ewing’s Spy battalion in the front. By fast riding they soon came up with the Indians, whom they found already in line to receive them.


Orders were at once given to dismount (leaving enough to hold the horses) and charge upon the Indians. They had scarcely time to form into line when they were met by the yelling Indians and a heavy volley from their guns.

Dodge and Ewing ordered a charge, and as they moved forward, returned the fire at close quarters, with deadly effect. The Indians then commenced a flank movement, and by securing a position in the high grass where they could in a measure conceal themselves, fought bravely, until Dodge and Ewing gave orders to charge upon them at the point of the bayonet. In this engagement Col. Jones had his horse shot from under him, and one man killed–but at the word _”charge,”_ he went forward with his brave men, and all performed their duty nobly and fearlessly, and soon dislodged the Indians from their hiding place and forced them into a hasty retreat. It being then too late to pursue them, orders were given to camp on the battle-ground.

In this engagement Neapope had command, who was not only brave and fearless, but well skilled in strategy. Having become well acquainted with him after the war, he told the writer that he knew Gen. Dodge personally, and had met him on the field of battle, and considered him one of the bravest men he had ever met, although in this engagement all the officers showed great skill and bravery, and thus encouraged their men to acts of noble daring to a degree that he had never before witnessed in common–not regular–soldiers. He said in this engagement, the command had been entrusted to him of this small force– about two hundred–Indians, in order to give Black Hawk and the remainder of his party, time to cross the river. He reported his loss at twenty-eight (28) killed.

The newt morning a portion of the army was ordered forward to pursue the fleeing enemy, but on reaching the river, found that they had taken to the swamps, when it was deemed prudent to return to camp without attempting to follow them.

Here the army rested for one day, and made comfortable provisions to carry the wounded, after having consigned the remains of John Short, who had been killed the day before, to mother Earth, with the honors of war.

In the meantime, Gen. Atkinson arrived with his regulars and the brigades of Generals Posey and Alexander; and on the 28th of July, took up the line of march with Gen. Atkinson at the head. Their route led through a mountainous country for several days, as the Indiana seemed to have selected the most difficult route they could find in order to gain time, and reach the river in advance, and then secure the best possible positions to defend themselves.

Having learned from an old Indian that had been left behind, that the enemy was only a short distance ahead, Gen. Atkinson, on breaking camp at an early hour in the morning, gave orders for the march towards the river, with Gen. Dodge’s squadron in front; Infantry next; Second brigade, under command of Gen. Alexander, next; Gen. Posey’s brigade next, and Gen. Henry’s in the rear.

After marching a few miles Gen. Dodge’s scouts discovered the rear guard of the enemy, when an express was sent immediately to Gen. Atkinson, who ordered troops to proceed at double quick. In the meantime Gen. Dodge’s command pushed forward and opened a heavy fire, from which many Indians were shot down while retreating toward the Mississippi, where their main body was stationed. Dodge’s squadron being in the lead, were first to open upon the main army of the Indians, whilst Gen. Henry’s brigade, that had been placed in the rear in the morning, came first to his aid. The battle waged furiously for more than two hours, and until the last visible Indian warrior was killed. The Indians had commenced crossing before the battle opened, and a number took to their canoes and made good their escape as the battle progressed. The number killed was estimated at something over one hundred, but the Indians afterward reported their loss at seventy- eight killed and forty-two wounded. Our loss was seventeen killed and about the same number wounded.

During the engagement several squaws were killed accidentally and a number wounded, including children, who were taken prisoners. Among the latter, Dr. Philleo reported a boy with one arm badly broken, who exhibited a greater degree of stoicism during the operation of amputation, than he had ever before witnessed. Being very hungry, they gave him a piece of bread to eat, which he ravenously masticated during the entire operation, apparently manifesting no pain whatever from the work of the surgeon.

Many of the Indians who got across the river in safety were afterwards killed by the Menomonees.


On the 2d of August, 1832, the steamboat, Warrior, was lying at Prairie du Chien, and word having been received at the fort that Black Hawk’s main army was then at, or near the river above, at a point designated for all to meet for the purpose of crossing the river, Lieut. Kingsbury took her in charge, and started up with one company, in order to intercept the Indians and prevent their crossing before the main army arrived, as he knew it was in close pursuit of them. The boat soon came in view of Indians on both sides of the river– Black Hawk and several lodges having already crossed over-when they were hailed by Lieut. Kingsbury. A white flag was hoisted by the Indians, and Black Hawk directed the Winnebago interpreter on board the Warrior, to say to his chief that he wanted him to send out his small boat so as he could go on board, a he desired to give himself up. The Winnebago, however, reported to the commander that they refused to bring their flag aboard. He then directed his interpreter to say that if they still refused he would open fire upon them. In reply, the interpreter said they still refused, when the Lieutenant directed his six-pounder to be fired among them, and also opened a musketry fire by his company. This was returned by the Indians, and the battle continued for some time. Several Indians were killed at the first fire, after which the remainder sought protection behind trees, stumps, etc. It was then getting late in the afternoon, and as the boat was nearly out of wood they dropped down to the fort to replenish, and started back again the next morning. On reaching an island some miles above their battle-ground of the day before, they commenced to rake it with their six-pounder, supposing the Indians had taken shelter there, and the army considering it a salute, Gen. Atkinson returned it. Soon after the boat landed and took on board Gen. Atkinson and the regulars and then returned to Prairie du Chien. The Illinois volunteers were ordered to Dixon, at which place they were discharged, while the troops of the lead mines were mustered out at Galena. After the boat started down the evening before, Black Hawk and a few of his people left for the lodge of a Winnebago friend, and gave himself up. Thus ended a bloody war which had been forced upon Black Hawk by Stillman’s troops violating a flag of truce, which was contrary to the rules of war of all civilized nations, and one that had always been respected by the Indians. And thus, by the treachery or ignorance of the Winnebago interpreter on board of the Warrior, it was bought to a close in the same ignoble way it commenced– disregarding a flag of truce–and by which Black Hawk lost more than half of his army. But in justice to Lieut. Kingsbury, who commanded the troops on the Warrior, and to his credit it must be said, that Black Hawk’s flag would have been respected if the Winnebago, who acted as his interpreter on the boat, had reported him correctly.



SIR:–I have the honor to report to you that I crossed the Ouisconsin on the 27th and 28th ultimo, with a select body of troops, consisting of the regulars under Colonel Taylor, four hundred in number, part of Henry’s, Posey’s and Alexander’s brigades, amounting in all to 1,300 men, and immediately fell upon the trail of the enemy, and pursued it by a forced march, through a mountainous and difficult country, till the morning of the 2d inst., when we came up with his main body on the left bank of the Mississippi, nearly opposite the mouth of the Ioway, which we attacked, defeated and dispensed, with a loss on his part of about a hundred and fifty men killed, thirty men, women and children taken prisoners–the precise number could not be ascertained, as the greater potion was slain after being forced into the river. Our loss in killed and wounded, which is stated below, is very small in comparison with the enemy, which may be attributed to the enemy’s being forced from his position by a rapid charge the commencement, and throughout the engagement the remnant of the enemy, cut up and disheartened, crossed to the opposite side of the river, and had fled into the interior, with a view, it is supposed, of joining Keokuk and Wapello’s bands of Sacs and Foxes.

The horses of the volunteer troops being exhausted by long marches, and the regular troops without shoes, it was not thought advisable to continue the pursuit; indeed, a stop to the further effusion of blood seemed to be called for, till it might he ascertained if the enemy would surrender.

It is ascertained from our prisoners that the enemy lost in the battle of the Ouisconsin sixty-eight killed and a very large number wounded; his whole loss does not fall short of three hundred. After the battle on the Ouisconsin, those of the enemy’s women and children, and some who were dismounted, attempted to make their escape by descending that river, but judicious measures being taken by Captain Loomis and Lieutenant Street, Indian Agent, thirty-two women and children and four men have been capured, and some fifteen men killed by the detachment under Lieutenant Ritner.

The day after the battle on the river, I fell down with the regular troops to this place by water, and the wounded men will join us to- day. It is now my purpose to direct, Keokuk to demand a surrender of the remaining principal men of the hostile party, which, from the large number of women and children we hold prisoners, I have every reason to believe will be compiled with. Should it not, they should be pursued and subdued, a step Major-General Scott will take upon his arrival.

I cannot speak too highly of the brave conduct of the regular and volunteer forces engaged in the last battle, and the fatiguing march that preceded it, and as soon as the reports of officers of the brigades and corps are handed in, they shall be submitted with further remarks:
5 killed, 6 wounded, 6th inft.
2 wounded, 5th inft.
1 Captain, 5 privates, Dodge’s Bat., mounted. 1 Lieutenant, 6 privates, Henry’s Bat. 1 private wounded, Alexander’s.
1 private wounded Posey’s.

I have the great honor to be, with great respect, Your obedient servant,
Brevet Brig. Gen. U.S.A.
Maj. Gen. Macomb, Com. in Chief, Washington.



Among the many hundreds of troops that came to Yellow Bank–Oquawka– on their way to the sea of war, Major S. S. Phelps always spoke in high terms of their good discipline and gentlemanly conduct, except in one instance–that of a few persons in a company from McDonough county, who came over at a time when old chief Tama and his wife, who was noted for being the white man’s friend, came over to get provisions for his little band. On seeing an Indian some of these soldiers, who had been using their canteens rather frequently, were eager to slay him, and not only threatened him but Major P. also, for harboring him. The officers seemed to have no control of these men– and just at a time when their threats were loudest of what they intended to do at the close of three minutes, Major P. and one of his clerks, Mr. Joseph Smart, were standing with their rifles cocked ready to make the first shot, a cry came from outside of the building, by one of the more peaceable soldiers, “Here comes another company, Capt. Peter Butler’s, from Monmouth,” when these would-be braves instantly retreated.

We are assured by one of Capt. B.’s company, Mr. James Ryason, that the foregoing is literally true, and that Major P. and Mr. Smart, afterwards, amid the threats of these same soldiers, escorted Tama and wife to the river bank to take their canoe to cross the river, and stood there with their guns, ready to protect the Indians until they got out of reach of gunshot–Smart threatening all the time to put a ball though the first man that attempted to shoot.

In order to appease the wrath of these soldiers and prevent some of them being killed, Capt. B. advised Maj. P. not to give Tama any provisions; but on the way down, Mr. Ryason says, Smart (who talked their language equal to a native born) told them to meet them at a certain point after night and they would be supplied; and that for the purpose of assisting Mr. Smart in taking supplies to Tama, he got leave of absence from the Captain until next morning.

Messrs. James Ryason and Gabriel Shot, both honorable and highly respected Christian gentlemen, are the only survivors of that company now residing in this county.

Tama’s village, located on South Henderson, half a mile below the farm of Mr. John T. Cook, at Gladstone, was always noted as being the abode of friendy Indians. In the fall of 1829, some write men came in and made improvements on the land in the vicinity, and at the advice of Mr. Phelps, Tama crossed the river and made a new town at the mouth of Flint river on the Mississippi, and at the time of Black Hawk’s raid into Illinois, it was the rendezvous of many young men who had been persuaded by Tama not to join Black Hawk. But when the news reached them of the indignities offered to their good old chief, they secretly determined to go upon the war path, and soon after four young Foxes started to cross the river and avenge the insult. On going up Henderson creek they espied Mr. William Martin while in the act of mowing, at a point near Little York, whom they shot and killed, and for fear of detection, immediately took to the brush. It being late when they got through the woods, they made a fire and camped just at the edge of the prairie.

Some time after the shooting, friends of Mr. Martin discovered his lifeless body and after removing it to the home, started on the trail of his murderers, and followed it some distance through the underbrush, but wisely concluded, as it was growing late, to return and give the alarm. An express was sent to Capt. Butler during the night, who started out with his company early in the morning, and on emerging into the prairie discovered the camp fire of the Indians, add followed their trail to a slough in the Mississippi two miles below Keithsburgh. Here the Indians embarked in their canoes and were probably on the other side of the river by this time. A demand was immediately made upon Keokuk for the murderers, as they belonged to his band of Foxes, who surrendered two men to the commanding officer at Rock Island.

These Indians soon afterwards made their escape, and before the time fixed for their trial, Keokuk delivered four young men to Maj. Phelps, then sheriff of Warren county, to be tried for the offence. Maj. P. and his deputy, Mr. James Ryason, took them to Monmouth jail, where the following proceedings were had before the Circuit Court (for a copy of which we are indebted to George C. Rankin, Esq., now Circuit Clerk):


William Martin was shot and scalped by two Indians, near Little York, Warren county, August 9th, 1832. In their report at the October term of the Warren Circuit Court, the Grand jurors say:

“Six or seven Indians of Keokuk’s band of Sac and Fox Indians who were not included in the war path under Black Hawk and other chiefs of the Sac and Fox, nation, came over from the western bank of the Mississippi river to the inhabited parts of Warren county, in said State. and unlawfully and feloniously murdered the said William Martin in the most barbarous manner. That the names of the said Indians are unknown to the Grand Jury. That two of the said Indians have been heretofore given up by the chiefs of said Indians, that they were confined in the Fort at Rock Island for some time but have made their escape, and are now at large in their own country. That the Grand jury cannot now find an indictment because the names of the said Indiana are unknown to said jury. But they recommend that the Governor of the State be furnished with a copy of this presentment, and that he be desired to request of the President of the United States that the whole of the said Indians concerned in the said murder may be demanded of the said Sac and Fox nation that they may be indicted and punished for murder under the authority of the laws of this State.”

In compliance with the demand of the President, the chiefs surrendered four Indians, namely, with their Interpretations; Sa-sa-pi-ma (he that troubleth).
Ka-ke-mo (he that speaks with something in his mouth). I-o-nah (stay here).
Wa-pa-sha-kon (the white string).

Concerning which, the Grand jury at the June term 1833 say:

“From an examination made by this Grand Jury they we now able to state that the four Indians lately surrendered by the chiefs at the request of the President of the United States, are not the real murderers of Martin. The chiefs represent that at the time the demand was made the real offenders had escaped from the territory and power of their nation. That the prisoners now in custody volunteered themselves to be surrendered in place of those who escaped, and that from custom amongst Indians, they supposed this would be a sufficient compliance with the requisition of the President. The Grand jury will not positively say that the chiefs have prevaricated, but they do say that the demand already made has been eluded.”

By a writ of habeas corpus, the four Indians above named were brought before the judge, presiding, Hon. Richard M. Young, June 14th, 1833, and released.

Indictment was returned against the real murderers, Shash-quo-washi, Muck-que-che-qua, Muck-qua-pal-ashah, and Was-a-wau-a-quot, who, “not having the fear of God before their eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigations of the devil,” killed Wm. Martin. The indictment was drawn by Thomas Ford, States Attorney, and recites that William Martin was shot a little below the shoulder blade. Among the witnesses named were Keokuk and Stabbing Chief. The guilty parties were never arrested, and a _nolle prosequi_ was entered at the October term at court, 1835.


Gen. Scott, with a full regiment of regulars, came up the lake and landed at Chicago about the 10th of July–the cholera in the meantime having broken out among his troops, from which several had died. While encamped at that point, it continued its virulence to such an extent, and in a number of cases fatally, that he deemed it best to much out on the high land, and soon after continued his journey, by slow marches, to Rock Island. On reaching Rock river, where Milan is now situated, the cholera had disappeared, and he went into camp with his entire regiment. The clear water of this beautiful stream was a Godsend to the many tired men, for the ablution of their bodies and the cleansing of their apparel, tents, etc., and seemed to have a general invigorating effect upon the entire regiment.

Gen. Scott then went over to Rock Island with two companies to garrison Fort Armstrong, and there learned the situation of affairs in the army, and the great reduction made in the ranks of Black Hawk’s band of Indians, so that a final close of the war was daily expected.

A few days after their arrival at Fort Armstrong, symptoms of cholera again appeared among the troops of the company, and the physician in charge tried every known remedy to check it, but failed in every instance, and after running its course, which was usually about twenty-four hours, the patient died. During the first three or four days of its ravages, about one-half of that company had been consigned to their last resting place in the soldiers’ cemetery.

Being on a visit to Rock Island at the time the cholera was raging, the writer, at the request of Col. Wm. Berry, (who had also come down from Galena to pay his respects to Gen. Scott,) accompanied him to the Fort and introduced him to the General. It was a very warm, but beautiful Sabbath, when we were admitted to the General’s quarters, about 10 o’clock in the morning, and after the introduction of our friend and the usual salutations of the day, the General, after expressing his doubts of the propriety of admitting us into the Fort, forcibly and touchingly detailed the ravages that the cholera was making in his ranks. Medicine, in the hands of a skillful physician, seemed to have no effect to stay its progress, and he was just on the eve of trying a different remedy as we came in, and if we would join him in a glass of brandy and water, he would proceed at once to put it into execution. He said he was satisfied that brandy was a good antidote to cholera, and by its use many of his soldiers were still well.


The General pulled off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and directed an orderly to tear off strips of red flannel, fill a bucket with brandy and carry them to the hospital. On arriving at the bedside of a patient he directed him to be stripped, and then with flannel soaked in brandy he rubbed his chest thoroughly, in order to bring on a reaction, in the meantime administering a little brandy with a spoon. In the course of half an hour he returned and reported progress. He said he left his patient free from pain, and directed a small portion of the brandy to be given occasionally.

The well soldiers, seeing that their General was not afraid of cholera, nor too proud to act as nurse to a sick soldier, took courage and insisted on his retiring, so that they could fill his place. Seeing that new life had been infused among the well soldiers, and a gleam of hope seeming to inspire the sick, he gave directions for them to continue, as he had commenced, and then retired.

On returning to his quarters he washed his hands, rolled down his sleeves, put on his uniform, and then invited us to take a little brandy. After listening to his mode of treatment, we casually remarked that it looked feasible, but at the same time reprehensible in the General of the army exposing himself in the performance of a duty that could be done as well by a common soldier. He gave us a look, and kept his eyes upon us as his giant form raised up, and, with a sweep of his sword arm, said in majestic tones: “Sir, it is the duty of a General to take care of his army; should he fall another can take his place; but, without an army his occupation is gone!”

The General’s treatment was continued right along, and the result was that many of those attacked got well.

Soon after the close of the war, which terminated with the battle of Bad Axe, on the second day of August, 1832, he came to Galena, and, in conference with Governor John Reynolds, ordered the chiefs head men and warriors of the Winnebago Nation to meet them at Fort Armstrong, Rock Island, on the 15th day of September, 1832, for the purpose of holding a treaty.

At the time fixed by the Commissioners they were met by the chiefs, head men and warriors of the Winnebago Nation, with whom a treaty was made and concluded, by which the Winnebagoes ceded to the United States all the lands claimed by them lying to the south and east of Wisconsin river and the Fox river of Green Bay. The consideration of this cession on the part of the United States, to be a grant to the Winnebago Nation of a tract on the west side of the Mississippi river known as the neutral ground and annual annuities for twenty-seven years of $10,000 in specie and a further sum, not to exceed $3,000 annually, for the purposes of maintaining a farm and a school for the education of Winnebago children during the same period of twenty-seven years.


After concluding the treaty with the Winnebagoes, and for the purpose of making a lasting peace with the Sacs and Foxes, these Commissioners held a treaty at the same place, and a week later, on the 21st day of September, with chiefs, head men and warriors of that confederate tribe. The Commissioners demanded, partly as indemnity for expenses incurred in the late war with Black Hawk’s band and to secure future tranquility, a cession of a large portion of their country bordering on the frontiers. In consideration thereof the United States agree to pay to said confederate tribes annually, for thirty years, $20,000 in specie; also, to pay Messrs. Farnham and Davenport, Indian traders at Rock Island, the sum of $40,000, to be receipted for in full of all demands against said Indians. And, further, at the special request of said confederate tribes, the United States agree to grant, by letters patent, to their particular friend, Antoine LeClair, interpreter, one section of land opposite Rock Island and one section at the head of the rapids of the Mississippi river.


This beautiful city now covers that “Section of land opposite Rock Island” that was donated by treaty to Antoine LeClair by the Sacs and Foxes, and also three or four more sections. At that time it was wholly uninhabited, the Foxes having removed their village from that point some three years before. As a town site it was regarded by strangers and travelers on steamboats as the most beautiful west of the Mississippi between St. Louis and St. Paul, and now, with its twenty-three thousand inhabitants, elegant residences, magnificent public buildings, fine churches, schoolhouses, extensive manufactories, and large business blocks, it Stands unrivalled as a beautiful city. It has ten miles of street railroads, affording easy access to all parts of the city. It has two daily papers, the _Gazette_ and _Democrat_, (morning and evening) both ably conducted; and also a German daily and two weeklies. The river is spanned by an elegant bridge that was built at the cost of nearly a million dollars, which is used by the various railroads from East to West, and has a roadway for teams and pedestrians.