Ogle County, Illinois
Source: "The history of Ogle County, Illinois: containing a history of the county ..."
By Kett, H.F. & co., Chicago, pub. 1878
Transcribed for Genealogy Trails by Melinda Lee Poole
THE BLACKHAWK WAR
The great event of the year 1832 was the Black Hawk War. The reader is familiar with the general history of this war, but there are some incidents connected with it and some phases of it familiar to the survivors of the sturdy rank and file that participated in it, who had and still have their opinions relating to its causes and conduct, differing from most published accounts, that should be recorded. The war was commenced and most of the blood was spilt in what was then Jo Daviess County. Mostly confining this sketch to these events and to the causes of the war as received from the lips of the survivors, it may appear that, like the Winnebago affair of 1827, the whites were not entirely guiltless.
In 1831, Black Hawk and his band had crossed to their old homes on Rock River, but had negotiated a treaty and returned to the west side of the Mississippi, receiving liberal presents of goods and provisions from the Government, and promised never to return without the consent of the President of the United States or the Governor of Illinois. But on the 6th day of April, 1832, he again recrossed the Mississippi with his entire band and their women and children. The Galenian, edited by Dr. A. Philleo, of May 2, 1832, says that "Black Hawk was invited by the Prophet, and had taken possession of a tract about forty miles up Rock River, but that he did not remain there long, but commenced his march up Rock River." Capt. William B. Green, now of Chicago, but who served in Stephenson's Company of mounted rangers, says that "Black Hawk and his band crossed the river with no hostile intent, but to accept an invitation from Pit-ta-wak, a friendly chief, to come over and spend the Summer with his people on the head waters of the Illinois," and the movements of Black Hawk up Rock River before pursuit by the military, seems to confirm this statement. There seems to be no question of the fact that he came in consequence of an invitation from the Prophet or Pit-ta-wak, or both, as his people were in a starving condition.
Others who agree with Green, that Black Hawk did not come to fight and had no idea of fighting, say that he had retired to the west side of the Mississippi the previous year under treaty, receiving a large quantity of corn and other provisions, but in the Spring his provisions were gone, his followers were starving, and he came back expecting to negotiate another treaty and to get a new supply of provisions.
There is still another explanation that may enable the reader to harmonize the preceding statements and to understand why Black Hawk returned in 1832. It is well known that in nearly all the treaties ever made with the Indians, the Indian traders dictated the terms for their allies and customers, and, of course, received a large share of the annuities, etc., in payment for debts due to them. Each tribe had certain traders who supplied them. George Davenport had a trading post at Fort Armstrong. His customers were largely the Sacs and Foxes, and he was held in high esteem by them; in fact, his word was their law. It is said that Black Hawk's band became indebted to him for a large amount and were unable to pay. They had not had good luck hunting during the Winter, and he was likely to lose heavily. If Black Hawk, therefore, could be induced to come on this side of the river again and the people could be alarmed so that a military force could be sent in pursuit of him, another treaty could be made, he might assist in making terms and get his pay out of the payments the government would make, and all would be well. Mr. Amos Farrar, who was Davenport's partner for some years, and who died in Galena during the war, is said to have declared, while on his death-bed, that the "the Indians were not to be blamed, that if they had been let alone there would have been no trouble - that the band were owing Mr. Davenport and he wanted to get his pay and would, if another treaty had been made."
In a letter to Gen. Atkinson, dated April 13, 1832, Davenport says: "I have been informed that the British band of Sac Indians are determined to make war on the frontier settlements. * * * From every information that I have received I am of the opinion that the intention of the British band of Sac Indians is to commit depredations on the inhabitants of the frontier."
Just such a letter as he or any other trader would have written to cause a pursuit, and consequent treaty. Black Hawk evidently understood the game. He was leisurely pursuing his way up Rock River, waiting for the first appearance of the military to display the white flag and negotiate as he had done the previous year.
Although Black Hawk's movement across the Mississippi, on the 6th of April, was at once construed into a hostile demonstration, and Davenport skillfully cultivated the idea, he was accompanied by his old men, women and children. No Indian warriors ever went on the war path encumbered in that way. More than this, it does not appear, from the sixth day of April until Stillman's drunken soldiers fired on his flag of truce, on the 12th of May, that a single settler was murdered, or suffered any material injury at the hands of Black Hawk or his band. In truth, Hon. H. S. Townsend, of Warren, Jo Daviess County, states that in one instance, at least, where they took corn from a settler they paid him for it. Capt. W. B. Green writes: "I never heard of Black Hawk's band, while passing up Rock River, committing any depredation whatever, not even petty theft." Frederick Stahl, Esq., of Galena, states that he was informed by the veteran, John Dixon, that "when Black Hawk's band passed his post, before the arrival of the troops, they were at his house. Ne-o-pope had the young braves well in hand, and informed him that they intended to commit no depredations, and should not "fight unless they were attacked."·
Whatever his motive may have been, it is the unanimous testimony of the survivors, now residing on the old battle-fields of that day, that except the violation of treaty stipulations and an arrogance of manner natural to an Indian who wanted to make a new trade with the "Great Father," the Sacs under Black Hawk committed no serious acts of hostility, and intended none, until after the alternative of war or extermination was presented to them by Stillman's men.
Certain it is that the people of Galena and of the mining district generally, apprehended no serious trouble and made no preparations for war until Capt. Stephenson brought the news of Stillman's route, on the 15th of May.
Some United States troops arrived at Galena from Prairie du Chien on the 1st of May, and about the same time Black Hawk commenced his march up Rock River, from the Prophet's Village (Prophetstown, Whiteside County), but there was no serious alarm among the inhabitants of the settled portions of Jo Daviess County, and the troops went to Rock Island (Fort Armstrong) on the 7th. About that time J. W. Stephenson, John Foley and Mr. Atchinson returned from a reconnoitering expedition, and reported that the Indians had "dispersed among the neighboring tribes." The Galenian of May 16th, printed before the tidings of Stillman's fiasco had reached Galena, said: ''It is already proved that they will not attempt to fight it out with us, as many have supposed. Will the temporary dispersion of Black Hawk's band among their neighbors cause our troops to be disbanded?''
On Saturday, May 12, Gov. Reynolds was at Dixon's Ferry, with about two thousand mounted riflemen, awaiting the arrival of Gen. Atkinson's forces from Fort Armstrong. A day or two previous, Major Isaiah Stillman, "with about four hundred well-mounted volunteers," says the Galenian, "commenced his march with a fixed determination to wage a war of extermination wherever he might find any part of the hostile band." Just before night, on the 12th of May, 1832, Stillman's forces encamped at White Rock Grove, in the eastern part of Marion Township, near what is now called Stillman Creek, about ten miles from Oregon. He was in close proximity to Black Hawk's encampment, but did not know it. Black Hawk was at that moment making arrangements to propose a treaty of peace. Stillman's men were well supplied with whisky. Some authorities state that they had with them a barrel of "fire water," and that many of them were drunk. They were all eager to get sight of an Indian, and were determined not to be happy until each had the gory scalp of a Sac dangling at his belt. Extermination was their motto, although the game they hunted had committed no depredations.
Soon after, becoming aware of the immediate presence of an armed force, Black Hawk sent a small party of his braves to Stillman's camp with a flag of truce. On their approach, they were discovered by some of the men, who, without reporting to their commander, and without orders, hastily mounted and dashed down upon the approaching Indians. These, not understanding this sudden movement, and apparently suspicious, retreated toward the camp of their chief. The whites fired, killed two and captured two more, but the others escaped, still pursued by the reckless volunteers. When Black Hawk and his war chief, Ne-o-pope, saw them dashing down upon their camp, their flag of truce disregarded, and, believing that their overtures for peace had been rejected, they raised the terrible war-whoop and prepared for the fray.
It was now the turn of the volunteers to retreat, which they did with wonderful celerity, after murdering their two prisoners, without waiting for the onslaught, supposing they were pursued by a thousand savage warriors. The flying braggarts rushed through the camp, spreading terror and consternation among their comrades, but late so eager to meet the foe. The wildest panic ensued, there was "mounting in hot haste," and without waiting to see whether there was anything to run for, every man fled, never stopping until they had reached Dixon's Ferry or some other place of safety, or had been stopped by the tomahawk or bullet. The first man to reach Dixon was a Kentucky lawyer, not unknown to fame in Jo Daviess County, who, as he strode into Dixon, reported that every man of Stillman's command had been killed except himself. Another man, named Comstock, never stopped until he reached Galena, where he reported that 'the men were all drunk, as he was, got scared and made the best time they could out of danger, but that he didn't see a single Indian." All accounts concur in the main facts, however, that the men were drunk, and that the white flag displayed by Black Hawk was fired upon in utter disregard of all rules of warfare recognized, even among the Indians. The whites had commenced the work of murder, and the Indians, losing all hope of negotiation, determined that extermination was a game that both parties could play. Gen. Whiteside, who was in command at Dixon, at once marched for the fatal field, but the enemy had gone, the main body having moved northward and the rest scattered in small bands to avenge the death of their people upon unoffending settlers. Eleven of Stillman's men were killed, among whom were Captain Adams and Major Perkins. Their mutilated remains were gathered and buried, and the place is known as ''Stillman's Run" to this day. This was the commencement of hostilities, and justice compels the impartial historian to record that the white were the aggressors. Many of the volunteers appreciated the fact, too. It was not such grand sport to kill Indians when they found that Indians might kill them, and especially when war had been wantonly commenced by firing upon and killing the bearers of the flag of peace. They grumbled and demanded to be mustered out, and were dismissed soon after by Governor Reynolds. Another call was issued, and a new· regiment of volunteers was mustered in at Beards town, w1th Jacob Fry as Colonel; James D. Henry, Lieutenant Colonel, and John Thomas, Major. The late commanding general, Whiteside, volunteered as a private.
The fatal act of Stillman's men precipitated all the horrors of Indian border warfare upon the white settlements in Jo Daviess County, as it then existed, and in the adjoining portions of Michigan Territory. Nor is it certain that all the outrages were perpetrated by the "British Band." It is certain that young Pottawattomies and Winnebagoes joined Black Hawk, and after the war suddenly closed at Bad Axe, it was ascertained that many of the murders had been committed by these Indians. Among the first results of ''Stillman's defeat" was the descent of about seventy Indians upon an unprotected settlement at Indian Creek (LaSalle County) where they massacred fifteen men, women and children of the families of Hall, Davis and Pettigrew, and captured two young women, Sylvia and Rachel Hall. These girls, seventeen and fifteen years old, respectively, were afterwards brought in by Winnebagoes to Gratiot Grove, and were ransomed by Major Henry Gratiot, for two thousand dollars in horses, wampum and trinkets, and taken to Galena.
May 15, 1832, Capt. James W. Stephenson arrived at Galena with the startling intelligence of Stillman's disastrous defeat and the commencement of bloody hostilities by the Indians, creating intense excitement among the people. The ringing notes of the bugle called the settlers and miners together on the old race course on the river bottom, near the foot of Washington Street, and a company of mounted rangers was organized, with James W. Stephenson for captain. At 3 o'clock on the morning of Saturday, May 19, Sergeant Fred Stahl (now a respected citizen of Galena) and privates William Durley, Vincent Smith, Redding Bennett, and James Smith, started to bear dispatches to Gen. Atkinson, at Dixon's Ferry, with John D. Winters, the mail contractor, for guide, but on Sunday, 20th, Sergeant Stahl returned and added to the alarm of the people by reporting that his party had been ambuscaded by the Indians just on the edge of Buffalo Grove, about 5 o'clock Saturday afternoon, and that Durley was instantly killed and left on the spot. Stahl received a bullet through his coat collar, and James Smith afterwards found a bullet hole in his hat and became intensely frightened. After the war the leader of the Indians told Dixon that he could have killed the young fellow (Stahl) as well as not, but he had a fine horse, and in trying to shoot him without injuring the animal, he shot too high, as Stahl suddenly stooped at the same time.
The Galenian of May 23, 1832, says: "The tomahawk and scalping knife have again been drawn on our frontier. Blood of our best citizens has been spilt in great profusion within the borders of Illinois. * * The Indians must be exterminated or sent off."
In the same paper it is said that ''fortifications for the defense of the town are rapidly progressing. On Saturday last (19th) a stockade1 was commenced near the centre of the town." On a bluff above, at a spot selected by Lieut. J. R. B. Gardenier, commanding the stockade and a large part of the town, a blockhouse was erected and a battery planted, manned by an artillery company, of which Lieut. Gardenier was captain.
On Monday, May 21, 2Col. J. M. Strode, commanding the 27th Regiment Illinois militia, proclaimed martial law, and required every able bodied man to work on the stockade from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. Strode's proclamation also prohibited the sale of spirits "at any of the groceries or taverns in Galena from 8 o'clock A.M. until 7 o'clock P.M," and all persons were "'positively prohibited from firing guns without positive orders, unless while standing guard to give an alarm."
The following is a list of the officers of the different companies then organized, as published in the Galenian, May 23:
First Mounted Rangers - J. W. Stephenson, Captain; J. K. Hammett, Alex. Kerr, Lieutenants.
Second Artillery - J.R.B. Gardenier, Captain; W. Campbell, First Lieutenant. Independent Company of Galena Volunteer Guards - M. M. Maughs, Captain; Moses Swan and H. Singleton, Lieutenants.
Captain H. H. Gear's company consists of sixty men. Captain Beedle's company of forty or fifty men. Captain Aldenrath's company, from East Fork, is also in town.
A blockhouse and stockade are built at Apple River (near Elizabeth} and a company of forty-six men organized, commanded by Vance L. Davidson; James Craig and James Temple, Lieutenants.
At White Oak Springs, ten miles from Galena, a stockade was erected, and a company of seventy organized. Benj. W. Clark, Captain; John R. Shultz, J. B. Woodson, Lieutenants.
At the New Diggings, nine miles from Galena, was another company of sixty-nine men under command of L. P. Voxburgh, Captain; P. Carr and H. Cavener, Lieutenants; and at Vinegar Hill and company of fifty-two men was commanded by Captain Jonathan Craig, with Thomas Kilgore and R. C. Bourn, Lieutenants. There was also a large company of nearly one hundred men at Gratiot's Grove.
The miners and settlers were thus able to protect themselves within a week after the news of Stillman's disaster reached them.
May 21, Indians fired on a Mr. Goss, near the mouth of Plum River.
May 23, Felix St. Vrain, agent for the Sacs and Foxes, bearer of dispatches, left General Atkinson's headquarters, on Rock River, accompanied by John Fowler, Thomas Kenney, William Hale, Aquilla Floyd, Aaron Hawley, and Alexander Higginbotham. At Buffalo Grove they found the body of the lamented Durley, and buried it a rod from the spot where they found it. The next day (24th) they were attacked by a party of thirty Indians near Kellogg's "old place.'' St. Vrain, Fowler, Hale and Hawley were killed. The other three escaped, and arrived at Galena on the morning of the 26th.
From the time the first volunteers were mustered out by Gov. Reynolds, on the 26th or 27th of May until the new levies were organized, on the 15th of June, numerous murders were committed by the Indians, and the only protection the people had were their own brave hearts and strong arms. The atrocities perpetrated by the Indians upon the bodies of their victims, aroused the vengeance of the settlers and miners, many of whom had previously felt that the Indians were not so much in fault, and had been needlessly provoked to bloodshed.
On the 30th day of May, 1832, a meeting of the citizens of Galena and vicinity, called by Col. Strode, to consider the perilous situation of the mining district, and devise measures for security and protection, was held at the house of M. & A. C. Swan (standing on the corner of Main and Green Streets, opposite DeSoto House). William Smith, Esq., was called to the chair and Captain James Craig appointed secretary.
On motion of Dr. Meeker, a committee of nine, consisting of Moses Meeker, William Hempstead, Michael Byrne, Robert Graham, Mr. Shears, James Craig, D. R. Davis, Mr. Thomas and David McNair were appointed to deliberate, and propose such measures as they might think best calculated to secure the object in view. This committee subsequently reported a series of resolutions, that the picketing and block houses be finished; that a garrison of 100 to 150 men be detailed, one third to be quartered in the garrison, and the others to be equally divided in the two extremities of the town, independent of the artillery and horse companies; that not less than fifteen men belonging to the artillery company lodge in the block house every night; recommending that two companies be made of Capt. Stephenson's company, and that they and Capt. Craig's company elect a major to command the squadron; that these companies shall be stationed in the vicinity of Galena, and shall keep out a sufficient number of spies or scouts to form a circuit of from ten to twenty-five miles around Galena, and report every evening; that all persons subject to military duty be immediately enrolled, held in readiness for active service, and to parade with their arms and equipments every evening at four o'clock; that at least ten days' provisions for one thousand men, with fifty barrels of water, be kept constantly in the stockade; that there must be unity of action between the forces under Gen. Dodge and the mounted men of the place, and that Dr. A. T. Crow, William Smith, Esq., and James Craig should prepare an address to the citizens of the mining district, in order to remove some existing misunderstanding3 between the people of the town and country.
The gentlemen named prepared and published the following:
To the Citizens of the Mining District, embracing the County of Jo Daviess, in the State of Illinois, and the Western part of the Territory of Michigan, on the Upper Mississippi:
Inhabiting, as we do, a country isolated from our brethren, both of the State and of the Union, to which we belong, surrounded by a savage and hostile enemy, who have raised both the tomahawk and the scalping knife, alike on the defenseless inhabitants, as the soldier going forth to battle. Already have we witnessed the fall of a Durley, a St. Vrain, a Hale, a Fowler, and a Hawley, on this side of Rock River, while the scalping knife is still reeking in the blood of our fellow citizens between Rock River and Peoria, and two of our sisters (Sylvia and Rachel Hall) are groaning in captivity amongst a savage enemy - our communication is cut off by land from the south and east. Prevented by Indian hostility from cultivating our farms and gardens, receiving but little succor from the state to which we belong, or from the general government, receiving but scanty supplies by way of the Mississippi, which must every day become more precarious. Thrown as we are upon our defensive means and resources, let us rally to the standard of our country, and husband with the utmost care the means we can command for our preservation and protection. Our supplies of every kind are principally in this place. Already are our means of security advancing rapidly to a completion, and here will be a place of security for our women and children; here, also, will be food and raiment for them. It is but too true that some of our citizens have been too remiss in their duty; the flame of patriotism does not burn alike in every bosom; and the soldier will look with pity, and not with contempt, at his less gifted neighbor. But when common danger threatens, let brethren unite the more closely, and while our enterprising men shall contend with an enemy in the open field, let those who remain at home do their duty in procuring and preparing all the means of defense and preservation in their power.
The time can not be distant when our situation must be known to our brethren abroad, and if we can defend our position but a short time, we may reasonably look for the succor which both the state and general government are bound to give us. Let us do with alacrity the duty assigned to each of us, and forget our little bickerings and jealousies. Let us finish our stockading and block houses. Let us examine the country, watching the approach and movements of any hostile party that may be in our borders; meet and chastise them if we can; and when peace shall again gladden our ears, we will then settle our misunderstanding, if any should then remain.
Signed on behalf of the meeting by A. T. CROW,
GALENA, May 30, 1832. JAMES CRAIG.
On the 6th of June the Galenian says: "The stockade in Galena is nearly done, and those in the country are in a tolerable state of completion." But it is evident, from the above address and from concurrent testimony, that the people did not all rally to the work as earnestly as the commander wished. Perhaps they did not realize that they were in any immediate danger, and they had to attend to their own business affairs. To show them the importance of completing their defenses and of attending to duty, as well as to give the citizens some practice in case the Indians should really make a night attack, some of the officers, including Col. Strode, planned to have a false alarm, by firing the cannon at midnight, the Monday night following the meeting. The date and results of the "scare'' are given in a letter from Dr. Newhall to his brother, dated Galena, June 8, 1832, as follows:
The Indian war has assumed an alarming character. On Monday night last (4th) we had an alarm that the town was attacked. The scene was horrid beyond description; men women and children flying to the stockade. I calculated seven hundred women and children were there within fifteen minutes after the alarm gun was fired - some with dresses on, and some with none; some with shoes, and some barefoot; sick persons were transported on other's shoulders; women and children screaming from one end of the town to the other. It was a false alarm. Had there been an Indian attack, I believe the people would have fought well.
Many ludicrous incidents are related of this "big scare," ludicrous afterwards and now, but not then, when all, save a few in the secret, fully believed the Indians were upon them. Among these, it is said that the worthy postmaster didn't stop to put on his trousers, and rushed into the stockade wrapped in a sheet, calling wildly for some one to bring him a pair of pants. A Mrs. Bennett was already there, making cartridges, and as the P. M. was rushing about for some clothes, she handed him a musket, with the cool remark, "Here, take this gun, and don't be scared to death."
The next day, when the people learned how cruelly their fears had been played upon their indignation knew no bounds. All business was suspended, Col. Strode and his associates fled the town, an impromptu indignation meeting was held at Swan's tavern, at which strong denunciatory resolutions were passed, and a committee appointed to investigate the matter, of which Rivers Cormack, the old Methodist minister, was chairman. After a few days, popular indignation subsided, and Colonel Strode returned. His motive was good, but the means adopted did not quite meet the approval of the citizens, and the experiment was not repeated.4
In Dr. Newhall's letter of June 8, quoted above, occurs the following:
The Indians have already taken about forty scalps in the whole. News has this day arrived of one more man (Mr. Auberry) having been killed and scalped, near Blue Mound. 5
June 8, Captain Stephenson's company of mounted rangers found the bodies of St. Vrain, Hale, Fowler and Hawley, four miles south of Kellogg's Grove, and buried them.
Colonel William S. Hamilton (a son of Alexander Hamilton, who was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr) arrived in Galena with two hundred and thirty Indians, mostly Sioux, with some Menominees and Winnebagoes, on the 8th. These Indians left Galena on the l0th, to join General Atkinson at Dixon's Ferry, all anxious to obtain Sac scalps. Black Hawk's band was reported moving slowly northward.
On the night of June 8, the Indians stole fourteen horses just outside the stockade on Apple River (Elizabeth), and on the night of the 17th, ten more were stolen. The next morning, Capt. J. W. Stephenson, with twelve of his men and nine from Apple River Fort, started on the trail of the red thieves, and overtook them about twelve miles east of Kellogg's Grove, southeast of Waddam's Grove, and pursued them several miles, until a little northeast of Waddam's (in Stephenson County), the Indians (seven in number, says Captain Green), took refuge in a dense thicket, and awaited the attack. Stephenson dismounted his men, and, detailing a guard for the horses, led his men in a gallant charge upon the concealed foe, received their fire and returned it, returning to the open prairie to re-load. Three times the brave boys charged upon this fatal thicket, losing a man each time. Only one Indian was known to be killed. He was bayonetted by Private Hood, and stabbed in the neck by Thomas Sublett. This Indian was scalped several times, and a piece of his scalp-lock is now (1878) in the possession of Wm. H. Snyder, Esq., of Galena. The three men killed were Stephen P. Howard, George Eames and Michael Lovell. Stephenson himself was wounded. After the third charge, Stephenson retreated, leaving his dead where they fell, and returned to Galena, arriving on the 19th. Of this desperate battle, Gov. Ford says: ''This attack of Capt. Stephenson was unsuccessful, and may have been imprudent; but it equalled any thing in modern warfare in daring and desperate courage."
On the evening of June 14, five men, at work in a cornfield at Spafford's farm, five miles below Fort Hamilton, on Spafford's Creek, and on the morning of the 16th, Henry Apple, a German, were killed within half a mile of the fort. Gen. Dodge, with twenty-nine men, at once pursued them about three miles, when they were discovered, eleven in number, in open ground, but were not overtaken until they crossed the East Pick-e·tone-ka, and entered an almost impenetrable swamp, at Horse Shoe Bend. At the edge of the swamp, Dodge ordered his men to dismount and link horses. Four men were left in charge of the horses, four were posted around the swamp to prevent the escape of the savages, and the remainder, twenty-one in number, advanced into the swamp about half a mile, where they received the fire of the Indians, and three men fell severely wounded. Gen. Dodge instantly ordered a charge. The Indians were found lying under the bank of a slough, and were not seen until the soldiers were within six or eight feet of them, when they fired. The whole hostile party were killed and scalped in one or two minutes, except one ·who swam the slough in an attempt to escape, and was shot down on the opposite bank. In this battle F. M. Morris and Samuel Wells were mortally, and Samuel Black and Thomas Jenkins severely, wounded. This was the first victory achieved over the murderous Sacs, and occasioned great rejoicing· in the settlements.
On the 20th, Stephenson's and Craig's companies, under command of Col. Strode, went to Waddam's Grove to bury the remains of Howard, Eames and Lovell, which they did, but left the dead Indian above ground. On their return they heard some suspicious sounds, but pushed on in the night to Imus's (in Rush Township) and returned to Galena in safety. Afterwards, says Capt. Green, who was with Stephenson's company, we learned that "a large party of Sacs were within a half-hour's march of us, when we left the graves of our dead comrades."
This party, which numbered about 150, had left the main body of Sacs on Rock River, and, after following Strode's command, were, undoubtedly, the same who made a furious attack on the stockade at Apple River, on the night of the 24th, under the following circumstances: F. Dixon, Edmund Welsh, G. W. Herclerode and Jas. L. Kirkpatrick started to carry dispatches to Gen. Atkinson. They had passed Apple River Fort when they were fired upon by Indians, and Welsh was badly wounded. His companions told him to retreat to the fort, and to give him time, turned upon the foe and raised a yell. This temporarily checked them; Welsh reached the fort and gave the alarm. Their stratagem succeeded. Dixon dashed through the savages, and escaped to Galena. Kirkpatrick and Herclerode gained the fort; the gate was shut, and for three quarters of an hour the battle raged. The women and girls made cartridges and loaded the muskets. Herclerode was killed while taking deliberate aim at an Indian over the top of the pickets. The number of Indians killed was not known, but they were supposed to have lost several, and finally withdrew, after stealing a large number of cattle, and destroying considerable property.
On the 29th of June, three men at work in a cornfield at Sinsinawa Mound (Jones' Mound), ten miles from Galena, were attacked by a small party of Indians, and two of them, James Boxley and John Thompson, were killed. Major Stephenson with thirty men started immediately on receipt of the news, to bury the murdered men and pursue the murderers. The bodies were shockingly mangled and both scalped, and Thompson's heart cut out. The Indians were followed to the residence of Mr. Jordan, (now Dunleith), on the Mississippi, where they had stolen a canoe and crossed the river. These Indians could hardly have been any of Black Hawk's band, unless they had deserted and were making their way back to the west side of the Mississippi.
On the 30th of June, all the inhabitants north of Galena and on the Mississippi, this side of Cassville, came into Galena for safety. It was not then considered safe to go a mile out of town without a strong guard.
Captain George W. Harrison, in Command at Fort Hamilton, on the Pick-a-ton-e-ka, thirty miles from Galena, after vainly endeavoring to get a cannon, went to Colonel Hamilton's furnace and cast several lead pieces, intended for two-pounders, which were properly mounted at the stockade, and answered every purpose.
June 20, 1832, the ladies of Galena, represented by Mrs. Nancy B. Lockwood, Mrs. Sarah B. Coons, and Miss Elizabeth A. Dodge, committee, presented a stand of colors to Captain Jas. W. Stepenson's company. On the 21st, "The daughters of the lead mines" presented a flag "to our Father War Chief" General Henry Dodge. Afterwards, on the 15th of July, the ladies of the mining country, represented by Miss Margaret C. Brophy and Miss Bridget F. Ryan, presented a stand of colors to Captain Bazil B. Craig's company, and about the same time, Misses Catherine S. and Amelia G. Dyas presented colors to Captain Alexander M. Jenkins.
It must be remembered that Black Hawk's forces kept on their march up Rock River, with the evident intention of returning to the west side of the Mississippi, as the forces of General Atkinson below prevented their return by the way they came, and they as evidently believed, after the affair with Stillman, that no flag of truce or proposals for peace would be received by the whites. But various Indian signs were discovered on the Mississippi River. July 6, Lieutenant Orrin Smith was sent, with twenty men, to Jordan's farm (opposite Dubuque), to scour the country there. On the 9th, Indians were in the vicinity of Rountree's Fort (Platteville), where they held a war dance around the scalp of a woman. On the l0th, the Galenian says: "To-day we learn that the trail of the Indians shows that they must have come from the west of the Mississippi, in a direction from Dubuque's mines."
These facts indicate very plainly that Black Hawk and his band were not responsible for all the outrages committed in the mining district, but that some of them, at least, are to be attributed to Indians from the west, while others, it is now known, were committed by young Winnebagoes.
July 14, Governor Reynolds, Colonel Fields (Secretary of State), Judges Smith and Brown, Colonels Hickman, Grant Bresse and Gatewood, Captain Jeffreys and others, arrived at Galena from the army. These gentlemen reported that the Indians were entirely destitute of provisions, and were endeavoring to reach and re-cross the Mississippi.
July 15, an express arrived at Galena, stating that Captain Harney, of the U.S.A., had found and pursued the trail of the Indians for thirty miles, passing four of their encampments in that distance, and that he found many signs of their want of provisions, " such as where they had butchered horses, dug for roots, and scraped the trees for bark," and it became evident that the military had concluded that Black Hawk was doing his best to escape to the west side of the Mississippi. Orders were sent to troops stationed on the banks of that river "to prevent or delay the Indians from crossing until the brigade sent by General Atkinson could come up with them." Indian outrages had now nearly ceased in Jo Daviess County, and a brief sketch of the movements of the troops from Dixon's Ferry to Bad Axe will close this part of the history.
On the 15th of June, 1832, the new levies of volunteers in camp at Dixon's Ferry were formed into three brigades. The first was commanded by General Alexander Posey; the second by General Milton R. Alexander, and the third by General James D. Henry.
June 17th, Captain Adam W. Snyder, of Colonel Fry's regiment, sent to scout the country between Rock River and Galena, while encamped near Burr Oak Grove, in what is now the Township of Erin, Stephenson County, was fired upon by four Indians. He pursued and killed them, losing one man mortally wounded. Returning, he was attacked by seventy lndians, both parties taking positions behind trees. General Whiteside, then a private, shot the leader of the band and they retreated, but were not pursued. Snyder lost two men killed and one wounded.
June 25th, a detachment of General Posey's brigade, commanded by Major John Dement, and encamped at Kellogg's Grove, or Burr Oak Grove, as it was then called, was attacked by a large party of Indians, and a sharp skirmish ensued. Major Dement lost five men and about twenty horses killed. The Indians left nine of their number stretched upon the field. General Posey, then encamped at Buffalo Grove, hastened to the relief of Dement, but the Indians had retreated two hours before he arrived. He returned to Kellogg's Grove to await the arrival of his baggage wagons, and then marched to Fort Hamilton, Michigan Territory.
Gen. Atkinson commenced his slow and cautious march up the river about the 25th of June, and finally reached Lake Koshkonong, where he was joined by Gen. Alexander's brigade, and then continued his march to White River, or Whitewater, where he was joined by Posey's brigade and the Galena battalion under Major Dodge. Gen. Alexander, Gen. Henry and Maj. Dodge were sent to Fort Winnebago for supplies. Here they heard that Black Hawk was making his way toward the Wisconsin River, and, disobeying orders, Henry and Dodge started in pursuit (Gen. Alexander and his brigade returning to Gen. Atkinson), struck the broad, fresh trail of the Indians and followed them with tireless energy. Ever and anon they would find old men, women and children, who could not keep up and had been abandoned to their fate by the flying Indians; some were killed. One old man, left to die, was sitting against a tree, and was boldly shot and scalped by a surgeon, who afterwards exhibited the scalp as a trophy of his valor.
Black Hawk was overtaken at Wisconsin River, and his braves offered battle to enable the women and children to cross the river. The battle of Wisconsin Heights, at which the Indians were badly whipped by our troops, and '"worse whipped by starvation," says Mr. Townsend, was fought on the 22d of July, 1832. Skirmishing commenced a little after noon, but the heaviest fighting was about sunset. The first Indian killed was discovered walking ahead of the troops with a pack of meat on his back. A soldier fired but missed him, when he turned and threw down his gun but was bayonetted after his surrender by Samples M. Journey. The fighting ceased about 10 o'clock, P.M., and the men bivouacked for rest on their arms. ''About daybreak," says Capt. D. S. Harris, then a Lieutenant in command of Stephenson's Company, "the camp was alarmed by the clarion voice of the Prophet from a hill nearly a mile away. At first we thought it was an alarm, but soon found that the Prophet wanted peace. Although he was so far distant I could hear distinctly every word, and I understood enough to know that he did not want to fight. The interpreter said that the Prophet said they 'had their squaws and families with them and were starving that they did not want to fight any more, but wanted peace and would do no more harm if they could be permitted to cross the Mississippi in peace.'" Mr. P. J. Pilcher, now of Elizabeth, who was also there, says that they were awakened by the shrill voice of the chief, and that he plainly understood: "Ne-com, P-e--e-l--o-o-o;" "Friends, we fight no more." Mr. Pilcher says he told Henry what the Indian said, but Henry said "pay no attention to any thing they say or do, but form in line of battle." The Winnebagoes in camp also informed the officers of the meaning of the Prophet's message, and "early in the morning," says Pilcher, "they went with us to the spot where the Indian had stood when he proclaimed peace, and there we found a tomahawk buried," an emphatic declaration that so far as Black Hawk and his band were concerned, hostilities were ended. No attention was paid to this second attempt to negotiate peace. It is said that the officers had no interpreter and did not know what the Prophet said until after the war closed. This excuse is exploded by the direct and emphatic testimony of Capt. Harris and Mr. Pilcher that the starved and dying Indians must be exterminated.
The next morning not an Indian remained on the east side of the Wisconsin. Gen. Henry pushed back for supplies, and Gen. Atkinson's "bottled forces" coming up, the pursuit was renewed, and the battle of Bad Axe was fought August 2, 1832. "For eight miles," says Townsend, "we were skirmishing with their rear guard,'' and numbers of squaws and children were killed.
When the troops charged upon the Indians the squaws and children were so closely commingled with the braves, and the squaws were dressed so nearly like the bucks, that it was almost impossible to distinguish between them.
In a sketch of the Black Hawk War, published by Benjamin Drake, the following incident is related: "A young squaw was standing in the grass, a short distance from the American line, holding her child, a little girl four years old, in her arms. In this position a gun was directed at her, and the bullet struck the right arm of the child just above the elbow, shattering the bone, passed into the breast of the young mother and instantly killed her. She fell upon the child and confined it to the ground. When the battle was nearly over, Lieutenant Anderson, of the United States Army, heard the cries of the child, and went to the spot and took it from beneath its dead mother and carried it to the place for surgical aid. The arm was amputated, and during the operation the half-starved child did not cry, but sat quietly eating a piece of hard biscuit. [Other authorities say it gnawed ravenously at the raw flesh on a horse-bone it had in its hand when its mother was shot.-ED.] The child was sent to Prairie du Chien, and fully recovered from its wound."
The battle of Bad Axe terminated the war, and Black Hawk's surrender, subsequent visit to Washington, and return to his people in Iowa, are events familiar to the reader. After nearly half a century has passed, and the Indians have disappeared before the westward advance of civilization, it is but just that the truth should be recorded. Passion and prejudice have passed away, and it must be admitted that "when the tomahawk and scalping knife were drawn" in 1832, it was only after the whites had commenced the carnival of blood by first firing on the flag of truce at "Stillman's Run." The vindictive pursuit and murder of women and children after the Prophet had in person informed his ruthless pursuers that "his people were starving and wanted peace," can not be justified. It was as savage an act as the savages themselves had committed. It must be added, also, that after Stillman's defeat, Black Hawk, then an old man, lost all control of his young braves, who were led by Ne-o-pope. But for that fatal act of Stillman's drunken soldiers, in all human probability the subsequent acts of savage barbarity by both Indians and whites had remained undone. "Fire-water" was the active cause of the Black Hawk War, as it was of the Winnebago War.
1A stockade was made by first digging a trench and standing upright in its timbers from six to twelve inches in diameter, from ten to fourteen feet long, and hewed to a point on the top end. These timbers were placed close together, so that when the trench was filled with earth there would be a solid wooden wall eight to ten feet in height. In the inside a platform was built, on which the inmates could stand to fire over the top, and the walls were also pierced with loop-holes.
2Col. Strode was said to have been the first man to reach Dixon after Stillman's defeat.
3The people of the country coming to Galena for safety were not provided for as they thought they ought to be. The people of the town were all excited, had their own business (the little that remained) to manage, and probably left their country neighbors to take care of themselves. Numbers of them were encamped on the bottom near the river for some time, no provision for them having been made within the stockade. Miners refused to come into town for this reason. They said, "We may as well remain at home as to go to the Point, where no arrangements have been made for us." A feeling of jealousy or bitterness sprang up in consequence, and to this the committee had reference.
4Tuesday night, July 24, a fire broke out in Dr. Crow's stable in the stockade, and two horses were burned. It was said that there was powder stored in the stable, and there was another scare, but this time the stampede was from the stockade. Amos Farrar died at his house in the stockade the same night.
5At the close of the war, it was discovered that Mr. Auberry was murdered by some Winnebago Indians.