EARLY MILITARY INVASION OF VERMILION COUNTY
(The History Of Vermilion County, Illinois by Lottie E. Jones )
Submitted by Barb Ziegenmeyer
After the close of the Revolutionary war, there was an invasion of the Northwest Territory made by Spanish troops who crossed the state and came into what is now Vermilion County. The point toward which these troops were marching was the British fort at the mouth of the St. Joseph river near the south end of Lake Michigan. Whether any more important results were contemplated than a temporary possession of this fort, has never been known. The land west of the Mississippi river, since known as the Louisiana Purchase, at that time belonged to Spain. St. Louis was its capital. It was from this point that the invasion was made.
On January 2, 1781, a small army of perhaps one hundred and fifty men under a Spanish officer crossed the Mississippi river on their way to march across the state of Illinois. This army was about equally divided between white men and Indians, while the white men were about half Frenchmen and half Spanish soldiers. Their objective point was the nearest fort which yet floated the flag of Great Britain. This was old Fort St. Joseph, located in southern Michigan. The only possible motive for this expedition was the hatred of the Spanish for Great Britain, and this was an echo of the trouble in the old country between these two, at that time, important European powers which were at war with each other. The march was started in mid-winter. Since the waterways were frozen, the march must be made by land, and since they did not dare venture on the prairies because of the extreme cold winds and the danger of losing their way, their line of travel was along the banks of the streams. It is not exactly known what trail they took, but it is agreed by all writers that they left the state at about where Danville now is, going thence in a northerly direction, to South Bend, Indiana. This distance of four hundred miles in the dead of winter must have occasioned much suffering. Although this coming of a foreign people had no effect upon affairs of this section, a natural interest in them makes a record of their after course admissible here.
This impoverished Spanish army was under command of Don Eugenie Pourre. They surprised Fort St. Joseph, and captured it without trouble. Hauling down the flag of Great Britain and hoisting that of Spain, they took up their triumphal march back to St. Louis, whence they sent word of the captured territory to Spain. It took a year to get the report to Spain, and no important results were ever recorded of this expedition. It might be that this was one link in a chain which Spain was forging to gain possession of more land in America; it may be that Vermilion County at that time really stood in danger of becoming a part of Spain in the new world, and had it not been for the clear vision and firm stand taken by Jay, Franklin and Adams this heroic march across this section would have proven a decisive act to that end.
As a proof that this particular section lay in the way of this march, the finding of two cannon balls in a valley a few miles west of Danville, has been cited. These cannon balls found some years ago about where the old Kickapoo village once stood, were in the range of any small piece of artillery planted on the nearby hills, and they are considered by some writers to be a relic of this expedition, but it seems with little reason, a more reasonable accounting for their presence is the fact of a later invasion of the section by Gen. Hopkins' army.
It must be remembered that, at the close of the war of the Revolution, and until after the war of 1812, the northern and western frontiers suffered. a great deal at the hands of the Indians who were instigated to utmost cruelty by the remnants of the representatives of Great Britain. Although defeated at the first war Great Britain was not convinced that America was a lost province, until after the second war. The Indians in the Wabash valley were particularly hostile. Western Indiana and eastern Illinois comprised a section where life was always in danger. The massacre at Fort Dearborn occurred less than two months after war had been declared with Great Britain in 1812, and aroused the people of the Illinois Territory. Governor Edwards gathered and organized a force of Illinois Rangers at Camp Russell, near Edwardsville into two regiments, placing these troops under the command of Col. Russell of the regular army.
Another available force was the two thousand mounted riflemen of Kentucky who were under the command of Gen. Samuel Hopkins, a veteran Revolutionary officer. These troops were in camp at Vincennes. To effect the best results it was agreed that the forces should act in concert to the end of destroying Indian villages in this terrorized section. Gen. Hopkins was to move up the Wabash river to Fort Harrison, burning Indian towns and driving the refugees before him. Then he was to cross the Wabash river into Illinois Territory, march across the Grand Prairie to the Illinois river at Peoria Lake, where he would be met by Gen. Russell and Gov. Edwards, the united forces to annihilate the Indians along the Illinois river. The plan was a good one for the men who were hunting what they considered wild animals that were a menace to the life of human beings. However, this campaign has gone down in history as a cruel attempt to wanton murder of many who were perfectly innocent, and is equaled only by records of revolting massacres on the part of the wildest savages themselves. The unnecessary cruelties perpetrated at La Pe, reflects anything but credit to the Illinois Rangers. La Pe was a French and Indian village, upon the site of which the present city of Peoria is built. Its people were in noway hostile. Yet the traders, voyageurs, Indians and even the agent, who was a loyal and confidential officer of the government, were all compelled to watch their village as it was burning, and then to march many miles from their homes to be left to wander back to their desecrated town, and accept what remained of it as best they could. This is but one instance of this one sided warfare. General Hopkins was chagrined because of the refusal of his troops to proceed after the fourth day's march, yet that disgrace was not more lasting than was the other obedience to orders which in themselves were a reflection on the manhood of the commanding officers. Had Gen. Hopkins and his men gone on and participated in the cowardly conduct of the Illinois Rangers, history would have given them an even less glorious place.
This army under command of Gen. Hopkins was composed of an aggregation of undisciplined men, enlisted as they believed to defend their own borders of Kentucky alone. Discontent arose before they left Vincennes at the idea of going into the interior of the territory, and it increased as they proceeded until, at Fort Harrison, some of the men broke off and returned home. After this, harmony appeared to prevail until they reached the Grand Prairie, when the silence necessary to an army in an enemy's country was broken, the abundant game tempting the men to straggle, and a constant firing ensued in spite of the commands of Gen. Hopkins himself. It was the rainy season, there were no competent guides to be had, they lost their way, and confusion prevailed only short of insubordination. When they encamped for the night of the fourth day out in a grove of timber affording water, the Indians in front set fire to the prairie grass which compelled the soldiers to fire the grass around the camp for protection. This was the last test of the endurance of the troops, and the officers determined to disobey the orders of Gen. Hopkins, and return to their homes. They agreed to his dictated order of return march, he, thinking he could destroy some Indian villages on the way, but the men broke through all restraint, the regiment became a mob, and each man chose the way he desired. The actual line of march taken by these troops is determined only by the direction and the distance known to have been traveled. Knowing the direction of these troops and the distance traveled, the decision of whence came the cannon balls found on the bluffs of the Middle Fork in 1869 is more readily made.
Judge Cunningham, in his history of Champaign County, gives as his opinion, and adds reasonable proof, that the grove with water "which fixed their camp on October eighth, was the Big Grove on the Salt Fork timber, and that the prairie, which then skirted it, was the scene of the brave old General's discomfiture. " That being the case, there is little doubt that the old Kickapoo village within "one and a half miles" of the old salt springs, was devastated by these very troops. While cutting down an abrupt bluff of the Middle Fork of the Vermilion river, ten miles west of Danville for the passage of the Indiana, Bloomington & Western Railway in 1869, the workmen took from the loose shale composing the bluff, two cannon balls of iron, each about three inches in diameter, which balls were in the possession of the late Hon. H. W. Beckwith previous to his death. There was no one able to account for their presence in that bluff. The only reasonable assumption appears to be that these balls were thrown from light field pieces which Gen. Hopkins' army carried with them.The only other armed force which ever passed this way was the Spaniards who came in 1781. If this army did pass near the Indian village it is hardly possible that it carried guns of sufficient caliber to have thrown these balls where they were found. Gen. Hopkins made his campaign in the early autumn when transportation across the country was comparatively easy, the distance from Fort Harrison, his base of supplies, being not more than eighty miles. His object was the destruction of Indian villages and the Kickapoo village was here where the cannon balls were found. Furthermore, General Hopkins had a force of 2,000 well-armed and mounted men while the Spanish force did not exceed 150 men and officers combined, who were on a long winter march and were provided, we must conclude, with nothing to impede the work in hand, which it must be borne in mind was to surprise and capture a force much smaller than their own, protected only by a weak stockade.
INDIAN WARS AS AFFECTING THIS SECTION.
This section of the country was not settled until after a binding treaty was made with the Indians and there was but little annoyance from them in consequence. The Miamis and Plankeshaws had given place to the Kickapoos and Pottowatomies before coming of the white man. When the settlements were begun the white man came in numbers to overpower the red man were he inclined to be hostile, and he transferred his hunting grounds to the north and northwest. Northern Illinois and Wisconsin were the attractions of the Indian in the twenties and early thirties. The Winnebagoes had possession of the country between Green Bay and the Mississippi river. This tribe was greatly and justly angered by the indignities perpetrated by some white men upon them. These white men were ascending the Mississippi river in the early summer of 1827. in charge of two keel-boats. They landed at a Winnebago camp not far above Prairie du Chien. After making the Indians all drunk and themselves, probably, as well, they captured some six or seven squaws. These the men took with them to Fort Snelling. Returning, they were met by several hundred Winnebago "braves" who had become sober and planned an attack to avenge the capture of their squaws. A narrow pass in the river drove the boats to the shore and the white men were at the mercy of the redmen. In the encounter which ensued the savages killed several of the white men and wounded many more before they could be repulsed. The squaws escaped. This was the beginning, and, in reality, the end of what appeared to be a threatened Indian war. The Pottowatomies about Chicago sympathized with the Winnebagoes and there was deep concern felt by those about Fort Dearborn lest their danger was imminent. The federal government ordered out the National troops under General Atkinson, and Governor Edwards called out the state militia with orders to march to Galena. So alarmed did the people about Fort Dearborn become,that they sent Colonel Gordon Hubbard to Vermilion County for troops. This mad ride of Colonel Hubbard has passed into history as one of the most remarkable on record. Although subsequent conditions did not prove as important in the one as in the other, yet this ride of itself, was as courageous and might have had as far reaching results as the one of Paul Revere, which has been the inspiration of story and song. Colonel Hubbard knew the country through which he was going to pass very well. He had traveled the way many times as he visited his trading posts from Fort Dearborn to the Little Vermilion. Leaving Chicago in the afternoon he reached his trading post on the Iroquois, despite the rain in the night. Pushing on, for his errand would not permit him to tarry anywhere, he reached Sugar creek long before morning. He found this stream swollen beyond its banks, and was obliged to make his first stop, waiting until daylight here. His Indian pony was almost exhausted when he reached Spencer's, two miles south of Danville, that same day. Runners were dispatched to the settlements on the Little Vermilion to enlist the help for which he had made that desperate ride. In the seventh volume of the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Gordon Hubbard makes statements which give accurate and lucid account of affairs at this time. Quoting directly, Mr. Hubbard says:"
"The first intelligence we had of the massacre on the upper Mississippi river, in 1827, here at Fort Dearborn, was brought by General Cass, who, at the time, was at Green Bay for the purpose of holding a treaty. The moment the General received the news of the hostile proceedings of the Winnebagoes, he started in a birchbark canoe, descended the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers to Jefferson Barracks, where he prevailed on the commanding officer to take the responsibility of chartering a steamer and sending troops up the Mississippi. The expedition left the morning after General Cass arrived there, he accompanying the party as far as the mouth of the Illinois river, which he ascended, and came here to Chicago in his light canoe. "
"I was taking breakfast with Mr. John Kinzie, when we heard the Canadian boat-song. Mr. Kinzie remarked that the leader's voice was like Forsyth's. secretary to General Cass. We all rushed to the piazza ; the canoe propelled by thirteen voyageurs was coming rapidly down the river in full view a beautiful sight. We hastened to the bank, receiving General Cass and Forsyth, the latter a nephew of Mr. Kinzie. While they were eating their breakfast they gave us full particulars of what had transpired. Gen. Cass remained perhaps two hours and left, coasting Lake Michigan. Big Foot's village was at what is now Geneva Lake, then known as Big Foot's Lake. An expedition was contemplated by Big Foot's band to capture Fort Dearborn, and to this end this chief had been at the fort circulating the war wampum among the Pottowatomies while they were here receiving their annuities. But all to no purpose. It was not accepted by the chiefs and braves of the Pottowatomies. This effort to get aid from the Pottowatomies was kept so secret that not a white man knew a thing about it. The Indians had left the foot before General Cass came, but Big Foot's band lingered. During this time the fort, then evacuated, was struck by lightning. The barracks on the east side, the storehouse at the south gate, and part of the guard house at the south gate, burned down."
" It was at the time blowing and raining furiously. I was sleeping with Robert Kinzie, United States postmaster, in his father's house. We put on our clothes, ran to the river, and found our canoe filled with water; we could make no headway with it. We then swam the river and aided in extinguishing the fire. We received no aid from the Indians of Big Foot's band. We thought it strange at the time and they decamped in the morning. The news by General Cass made us suspicious of Big Foot. That same day we sent Shaubanee and Billy Caldwell to Big Foot's village as spies, to ascertain what the Indians' intentions were. Caldwell secreted himself in the woods, sending Shaubanee into the camp. He was immediately seized, but by his presence of mind and shrewdness, was liberated. "
He was escorted by Big Foot Indians for half a day, Shaubanee giving a signal as they passed near where Caldwell was, so that he and Caldwell did not return together, Caldwell reaching here about two hours later. Shaubanee reported that he was questioned as to the quantity of guns and ammunition the traders had here, which led him to think an attack was contemplated. Big Foot admitted he had joined the Winnebagoes to drive the whites from the country, urging Shaubanee to act with him, who replied that he would go home, call a council of his braves, and send him an answer. There were only about thirty whites here at Chicago, able to bear arms at that time. A council was called, which resulted in a resolution to send two or three to the Wabash for aid. Three volunteers were called for this purpose, but no one seemed willing to go. I volunteered to go alone. Mrs. Helm who was here at the massacre of 1812, but fifteen years ago, objected on the ground that I was the only one who had sufficient influence to command the voyageurs, in case of attack, but it was finally decided that I should go. I started about four o'clock P. M. and reached within two miles of Danville, at my destination, the next afternoon one hundred and twenty miles. Runners were immediately dispatched through the settlements and the second day, one hundred mounted volunteers reported and we left for Chicago, reaching there the seventh day after my leaving the fort. These volunteers remained, I think, about twenty-five days, when we received the news that the troops from Jefferson Barracks had reached the upper Mississippi. The Winnebagoes, surprised at their arrival, got together and concluded a peace with the commanding officer."
" After reading this account given by Hubbard himself, it is well to turn to another account as given by a citizen of Vermilion County of the part this section took in this war. There is a narrative given by Hezekiah Cunningham in the Beckwith history, which graphically portrays the conditions of this expedition and gives a vivid picture of the times and occasion so that it is well to reproduce it here. Mr. Cunningham was one of the men who responded to the call of Hubbard and knew all about the matter. He says : "
In the night time, about the fifteenth of July. 1827, I was awakened by my brother-in-law, Alexander McDonald, telling me that Mr. Hubbard had just come in from Chicago, with the word that the Indians were about to massacre the people there, and that men were wanted for their protection at once. The inhabitants of the county capable of bearing arms had been enrolled under the militia law of the state, and organized as 'The Vermilion County Battalion' in which I held a commission as Captain. I dressed myself and started forthwith
to notify all the men belonging to my company to meet at Butler's Point, the place where the county business was then conducted, and where the militia met to muster. The captains of the other companies were notified, the same as myself, and they warned out their respective companies the same as I did mine. I rode the remainder of the night at this work, up and down the Little Vermilion. At noon the next day the battalion was at Butler's Point. Most of the men lived on the Little Vermilion river, and had to ride or walk six to twelve miles to the place of rendezvous. Volunteers were called for, and in a little time fifty men, the required number, were raised. Those who agreed to go, then held an election of officers for the campaign, choosing Achilles Morgan, Captain ; Major Bayles, First Lieutenant, and Colonel Isaac Moore, as Second Lieutenant. The names of the private men as near as I can remember them are as follows: George M. Beckwith, John Beasly, myself (Hezekiah Cunningham), Julian Ellis, Sherman Cox, James Dixon, Asa Elliott. Francis Foley, William Foley, a Mr. Hammers, Jacob Heater, a Mr. Davis, Erin Morgan, Isaac Goen, Jonathan Phelps, Joshua Parish, William Reed, John Myers (Little Vermilion John), John S. Saulsbury, a Mr. Kirkman, Anthony Swisher, George Swisher, Joseph Price, George Weir, -John Vaughn, Newton Wright and Abel Williams. Many of these men were without horse and the neighbors who had horses and did not go, loaned their animals to those who did. Still there were five men who started afoot, as there were not horses for them. We disbanded after we were mustered in and went home to cook five days rations, and were ordered to be at Danville the next day. The men all had a pint of whiskey thinking it essential to mix a little of it with the slough water we were to drink on our route. Abel Williams was smart enough, however, to take some ground coffee and a tin cup along, using no stimulants whatever. He had warm drinks on his way up to Chicago and on our way back, all of us, had the same. We arrived at the Vermilion river on about noon on Sunday, the day after assembling at Butler's Point. The river was up running bank full, about a hundred yards wide, with a strong current. Our men and saddles were taken over in a canoe. We undertook to swim our horses, and as they were driven into the water the current would strike them and they would swim in a circle, and return to the shore a few rods below. Mr. Hubbard, provoked at this delay, threw off his coat and said : 'Give me old Charley,' meaning a large, steady going horse owned by James Butler and loaned to Jacob Heater. Mr. Hubbard mounting this horse, bodily dashed into the stream, and the other horses were quickly crowded after him. The water was so swift that old Charley became unmanageable, when Mr. Hubbard dismounted on the upper side, and seized the horse by the mane near the animal's head and swimming with his left arm, guided the horse in the direction of the opposite shore. We were afraid he would be washed under the horse, or be struck by his feet and be drowned; but he got over without damage, except the wetting of his broadcloth pants and moccasins. These he had to dry on his person as we went on our way. I will here say that a better man than Mr. Hubbard could not have been sent to our people. He was well known to all the settlers. His generosity, his quiet and determined courage, and his integrity were so well known and appreciated that he had the confidence and good will of everybody, and was a well recognized leader among us pioneers. "
" At that time there were no persons living on the north bank of the Vermilion river, near Danville, except Robert Trickle and George Weir, up near the present (1879) woolen factory, and William Reed and Dan Beckwith; the latter had a little log cabin on the bluff of the Vermilion near the present highway bridge or rather on the edge of the hill east of the highway some rods. Here he kept store in addition to his official duties of constable and county surveyor. The store contained a small assortment of such articles as were suitable for barter with the Indians who were the principal customers. We called it the 'Saddle-bag' store because the supplies were brought us from Terre Haute in saddle-bags, that indispensable accompaniment of every rider in those days, before highways were provided for the use of vehicles. Mr. Reed had been elected sheriff the previous March, receiving fifty-seven out of the eighty votes cast at the election and which represented about all the voting population of the country at that time. Both Reed and Dan wanted to go with us, and after quite a warm controversy between them, as it was impossible for both to leave, it was agreed that Reed should go and that Beckwith would look after the affairs of both while he was gone. Amos Williams was building his house in Danville at that time, the sale of lots having taken place the previous April. "
Crossing the North Fork at Denmark, three miles north of Danville, we passed the cabin of Seymour Treat. He was building a mill at that place, and his house was the last one in which a family was living until we reached Hubbard's trading post on the north bank of the Iroquois river, near which has since been known as the town of 'Buncombe,' and from this trading post there was no habitation, Indian wigwams excepted, on the line of our march until we reached Fort Dearborn. It was a wilderness of prairie all the way except a little timber we passed through near Sugar creek and at the Iroquois. Late in the same afternoon that we passed Treat's house, we halted at the last crossing of the North Fork at Bicknell's Point, a little north of the present town of Rossville. .Here three of the foot men turned back as the conditions of the streams made it impossible for them to continue longer with us. Two men who had horses also left us. After a hasty lunch we struck out across the eighteen mile prairie, the men stringing out on the trail, Indian file, reaching Sugar creek late in the night, where we went into camp on the south bank, near the present town of Milford. The next day before noon, we arrived at Hubbard's Trading House, which was on the north bank of -the Iroquois, about a quarter of a mile from the river. A lot of Indians, some of them half naked, were laying and lounging around on the river's bank and trading-house ; and when it was proposed to swim our horses over in advance of passing the men in boats the men objected, fearing the Indians would take our horses, or stampede them, or do us some
other mischief. Mr. Hubbard assured us these savages were friendly, and we afterwards learned that they were Pottowatomies, known as 'Hubbard Band' from the fact that he had long traded with, and had an influence over them. It is proper to state here that we were deficient in arms. We gathered up squirrel rifles, flint locks, old muskets or anything like a gun, that we may have had about our houses. Some of us had no fire-arms at all. I, myself, was among this number. Mr. Hubbard supplied those of us who had inefficient weapons, or those of us who were without them. He also gave us flour and salt pork. He had lately brought up the Iroquois river, a supply of these articles. We remained at Hubbard's trading house the remainder of the day, cooking rations and supplying our necessities. The next morning we again moved forward, swimming Beaver creek and crossing Kankakee river at the rapids, just at the head of the island near Momence; pushing along we passed Yellowhead's village. The old chief, with a few old men and squaws and papooses, were at home; the young men were off on a hunt. Remaining here a little time, we again set out, and going about five miles, we encamped at the point of the timber on Yellow Head's creek. The next morning we again set out crossing a branch of the Calumet to the west of the Blue Island. All the way from Danville we had followed an Indian trail, since known as Hubbard's Trace. There was no signs of roads, the prairies and the whole country was crossed and re- crossed by Indian trails, and we never could have got through but for the knowledge Mr. Hubbard had of the country. It had been raining for some days before we left home, and it rained almost every day on the route. The streams and sloughs were full of water. We swam the former and traveled through the latter, some times almost by the hour. Many of the ponds were so deep that our men dipped up the water to drink as they sat in their saddles. "
" Colonel Hubbard, fared better than the rest of us that is, he did not get his legs wet as often, for he rode a very tall, iron-gray stallion, that Peleg Spencer, Sr., living two miles south of Danville, loaned him. The little Indian pony Hubbard rode in from the Iroquois, to Spencers, was so used up, as to be unfit for the return journey. "
" We reached Chicago about four o'clock on the morning of the fourth day in the midst of the most severe rain storm I ever experienced, accompanied by thunder and vicious lightning. The rain we did not mind ; we were without tents and were used to wetting. The water we took within us hurt us more than that which fell upon us, as drinking it made many of us sick. The people of Chicago were very glad to see us. They had been expecting an attack every hour since Colonel Hubbard had left them, and as we approached they did not know whether we were enemies or friends, and when they learned that we were friends, they gave us a shout of welcome.They had organized a company of thirty or fifty men, composed principally of Canadian half-breeds, interspersed with a few Americans, all under command of Captain Beaubien. The Americans, seeing we were a better-looking crowd, wanted to leave their associates and join our company. This feeling caused quite a row. and the officers finally restored harmony, and the discontented men went back to their old command. The town of Chicago was composed at this time, of six or seven American families, a number of half-breeds, and a lot of idle, vagabond Indians loitering about. I made the acquaintance of Robert and James Kinzie, and their father, John Kinzie. We kept guard day and night, for some eight or ten days, when a runner came in I think from Green Bay bringing word that General Cass had concluded a treaty with the Winnebagoes, and we might now disband and go home. The citizens were overjoyed at the news and in their gladness they turned out one barrel of gin, one barrel of brandy and one barrel of whiskey,knocking the heads of the barrels in. Everybody was invited to take a free drink, and, to tell the truth, everybody did drink. "
" The ladies of Fort Dearborn treated us especially well. I say this without disparaging the conduct of the men to us. The ladies gave us all manner of good things to eat; they loaded us with provisions and gave us all those delicate attentions that the kindness of a woman's heart would suggest. Some of them, the ladies whom, I understand, were recently from New York, distributed tracts and other reading matter among our company, and interested themselves zealously in our spiritual, as well as our temporal welfare. We started on our return, camping out of nights and reaching home on the third day. The only good water we got, going out or coming back, was at a remarkable spring bursting out of the top of a little mound in the midst of a slough a few miles south of the Kankakee. I shall never forget this spring; it was a curiosity, found in the situation I have described. "
In conclusion, let me say, that, under the bounty act of 1852, I received a warrant for eighty acres of land for my service in the campaign above narrated."
The other important Indian war affected Vermilion County no more directly. It was what is known in history as the Black Hawk war, and bears date of 1832, five years after that of the Winnebago war. The vast extent of territory in the northern part of Illinois, was owned by the Saux and Fox Indians up to the time of the treaty of 1830. A treaty was made with them as early as 1804, by which they, for $2,000, and an annuity of $1,000, ceded to the United States large tracts of land on the Mississippi and Illinois river. At this time these Indians were mostly west of the Mississippi, 140 leagues above St. Louis, and they numbered 1,200. In the war of 1812, three hundred warriors joined the British at Maiden, and took part in the attack on Sandusky. This was the time, it must be remembered, of the massacre at Fort Dearborn, and the subsequent raids against the Indians by the Illinois Rangers. Keokuk, one of their chiefs, with a part of the tribe, remained friendly, then and afterward. In 1815 they made a treaty of peace but one band of Saux (or Sacs, as they
were frequently called), long continued to be called the British Band.
By the terms of the treaty of 1824 and that of 1830 which virtually ratified the former, the Indians agreed to go across the Mississippi and open up the land on the east side to the white man. This treaty was recognized by the most of the Indians and was satisfactory to the great chief, Keokuk, but was not considered binding by the equally as great chief. Black Hawk. He claimed that neither himself nor any one representing his band was present when either treaty was made. An agreement was at last effected between the Indian and the white man that provided for a joint ownership of the land, but which, by the nature of conditions, could not stand. Black Hawk and his band grew more and more annoying the white settlers retaliated by tearing down fences and letting their cattle in to destroy the corn the squaws had planted. The troops, both State and National, were sent into that section and drove Black Hawk's band across the Mississippi. This was in 1831. Black Hawk had been an ally of the British and his band was yet called the British Band and the Americans were suspicious of him, so that when he, the following year, came with his entire band, including the squaws and papooses, and cooking utensils, with the avowed intention that, if his squaws were not allowed to plant corn on their old fields he would accept the invitation of the Winnebagoes and plant corn near some of their villages, his motives in coming were seriously questioned. His coming caused great alarm and Governor Reynolds called out the militia and forced the position, on the part of Black Hawk, to make war upon the whites. A council with Black Hawk would, without doubt, have resulted in a submission without bloodshed. At least this seems to be the correct reading of history. The details of the Black Hawk war are out of place here other than to the extent that Vermilion County was affected by them.
The first knowledge the people had of this war was at the Sunday services being conducted by Rev. Kingsbury. These services were in the second story of a store building. The terrible fear of being captured by the Indians had sent the scattered inhabitants of the Fox River Country from their homes to the southward, always with the cry "The Indians!" "The Indians!" Three of these terrified white men had made their way to Danville, and on that quiet bright Lord's Day, all breathless with fear and fatigue, had alarmed the town by rushing into service with this cry of terror and the appalling stories they had to tell. Rumors of distress grew, and sympathy increased until a call for volunteers to go to the relief of the white men in peril resulted in the enlistment, in less than two hours, of thirty-one men ready to march out to save the settlers. Provision was hastily prepared, firearms were secured, an election of officers resulted in the choice of Dan Beckwith for Captain, and by three o'clock in the afternoon this company was on the way to Joliet. They reached Becknell's crossing of the North Fork by nightfall, where they went into camp. The next morning they went out on the great prairie and pushed between the path of the families coming south and what they supposed were the pursuing Indians. However, they could not find any Indians in pursuit ; in fact, they only found some friendly Pottowatomies who were known to the officers of the company. A story of possible danger which was not met by this company was a tale current for some time afterward, but in reality, there was no incident recorded, either going or coming to excite their alarm. The one incident to which reference is made, was this one evening they were near the "twelve mile grove" and camped for the night. Dr. Fithian and George Beckwith were sent out to reconnoiter this grove as spies. As they approached this grove their horses were seized with an unaccountable fright and their riders lost control of
them. As the dusk was settling down, the men decided it would hardly be safe for them to proceed, so they went to camp, learning later that Black Hawk's men were secreted in the grove. While these volunteers were away, Colonel Isaac J. Moores had been officially notified by Governor Reynolds to have his regiment included in the Vermilion County militia in readiness in case their services were needed. Immediately on the alarm, the volunteers got in readiness, and Colonel Hubbard furnished several four-horse wagons, loaded with provision, for their sustenance. This force consisted of four hundred mounted men. Every part of the county was represented by its best citizens. Colonel Moores was in command with John Murphy, acting as his aid. The next morning as they reached the prairie they met the company which had gone to the relief of the settlers returning. The most of them went back to the seat of war with Colonel Moores' regiment and the others went on to Danville to spend a few days with families and to return a little later. Captain Morgan L. Payne and his company were sent some thirty miles up the Du Page river from Joliet with instructions to build a block-house and protect the property which had been abandoned in their flight. Colonel Moores also commenced a fortification at Joliet when his command was ordered to Ottawa, the headquarters of General Atkinson, and his command discharged, and, with the exception of Captain Payne's company, allowed to immediately return home.
Captain Payne built a block-house and a fort not far from Naperville. The inhabitants of Naperville had all fled in great haste. After the fort was completed some seventy women and children who had escaped to Chicago when the Indians first made their attack were brought back here for safety from the cholera when it broke out.
It was not long after the discharge of Colonel Moores' regiment that Captain Payne's command was also relieved and they returned home. There was but one life lost in this campaign. The one man killed was William Brown. He went to Butterfield's pasture to get some clapboards which had been left there before the Indian disturbances and was killed by the enemy in ambush. Brown, a young fellow himself, was accompanied by a lad of about fifteen who escaped injury, and returned to their camp near Naperville. The Indians took the horses from the wagon and led them away, while they run the wagon against the tree and destroyed it.
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