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In the year 1804, a treaty was concluded between the United States and the chiefs of the Sac and Fox nations, in virtue of which the Americans acquired, together with other territory, all the lands of these Indians on Rock river. One old chief of the Sacs, however, called “Black Hawk," who had fought with great bravery in the service of Great Britain during the war of 1812, had always taken exception to this treaty, and pronouncing it to be void, established himself, with a chosen band of warriors, upon the disputed territory, ordering the white settlers to leave the country at once. The settlers complaining, Gov. Reynolds despatched Gen. Gaines, with a company of regulars and 1500 volunteers, to the scene of action; taking the Indians by surprise, these troops burnt their villages, and forced them to conclude a treaty, by which they ceded all right and title to the lands east of the Mississippi, and agreed to remain on the western side of the river. Necessity had compelled the proud spirit of Black Hawk into submission, 'which made him more than ever determined to be avenged upon bis enemies at the earliest possible moment. Having rallied around him the warlike braves of the Sac and Fox nations, he crossed the Mississippi river, in the spring of 1832, and directed his march into the countries of the Winnebagoes and Pottawatomies, intending to make them his allies. Upon hearing of the invasion, Gov. Reynolds hastily collected a body of 1800 volunteers, divided into four regiments, and a spy battalion, of which Col. Dewitt commanded the 1st, Col. Fry the 2d, Col. Thomas the 3d, Col. Thompson the 4th regiment, and Col. James D. Henry the spy battalion, while the command of the whole 'brigade was entrusted to Brig. Gen. Samuel Whiteside, of the State militia.
The army marched to the Mississippi, and having reduced to ashes the Indian village known as “Prophet's Town," proceeded for several miles up the river to Dixon, to join the regular forces under Gen. Atkinson, and to await the arrival of provisions. They found at Dixon two companies of volunteers, amounting to 275 men, who, sighing for glory, were despatched by Gen. Whiteside to reconnoitre the enemy. They advanced, under the command of Major Stillman, to a river afterwards called “Stillman's run,” and whilst encamping there, espied a party of mounted Indians at the distance of a mile. Several of Stillman's party mounted their horses, and charged the Indians, killing three of them; but, attacked by the main body of the Indians under Black Hawk, they were routed in their turn, and by their precipitate flight spread such a panic through the camp, that the whole company ran off to Dixon as fast as their legs could carry them. On their arrival thither, eleven were missed, who had been killed by the Indians. At a council of war, immediately convoked by Gen. Whiteside, it was agreed to march back the next day to the battle-ground. Upon reaching the battle-field, Gen. Whiteside could discover no Indians; being short of provisions, he buried the dead, put up a rude board to their memory, and returned to Dixon, where Gen. Atkinson joined him with the regular forces. The whole brigade was now 2400 strong, so that the war would have been speedily brought to a close, had not a majority of the militia, whose term of service had expired, left the army, to attend to their affairs at home.
The Indians in the meantime committing depredations everywhere, and massacring the inhabitants of some small: frontier settlements, the Governor called out several new regiments of militia, one of which was sent in advance, to spy out the country between Galena and Rock river. This regiment, surprised by a party of 70 Indians, was on the point of being thrown into disorder, when Gen. Whiteside, then serying as a private in the regiment, shouted out that he would shoot the first man, who should turn his back to the enemy. Order being at once restored, the battle began; at its very outset Gen. Whiteside shot the leader of the Indians, who thereupon commenced a hasty retreat.
Up to the 15th of June, 1832, nearly 4000 volunteers had been organized; this force was fully sufficient, not only to prosecute the war, but, at the same time, keep in check various Indian tribes who seemed to evince much friendship to the cause of Black Hawk.
About this time Black Hawk, with a band of 150 warriors, at
tacked the Apple River Fort, situated 12 miles from Galena, and defended by 25 men. This fort, a mere palisade of logs, in the form of a square, the corners of which were flanked by block-houses, was erected to afford protection to the miners living in its vicinity, in case of an Indian war. For fifteen consecutive hours the garrison had to sustain the assaults of the savage enemy, but knowing very well, that no quarter would be given them, they fought with such fury and desperation, that the Indians, after losing a great many of their best warriors, were compelled to retreat. Galena itself had been threatened with an assault, but on learning the formidable state of its defences, the Indians did not dare to attack it.
Another party of 11 Indians murdered two men near Fort Hamilton; they were afterwards overtaken by a company of 20 under Gen. Dodge, and every man of them killed.
About this time an engagement took place between Capt. Stephenson, of Galena, and a party of Indians, who had taken up their position in a dense thicket of the prairie. A desperate charge was made upon the Indians by the whites, and a number of volleys fired by both parties, those of the whites taking no effect, whilst those which the ambushed Indians delivered, killed several of the whites, causing Capt. Stephenson, himself severely wounded, to order a retreat.
Whilst the Indians were scattering their war-parties over the northern part of Illinois, cutting off the communication between the isolated frontier towns, the regular soldiers and newly-organized volunteer regiments, under the command of Gen. Atkinson, assembled on the banks of the Illinois, in the latter part of June. Sent in advance to explore the country, Major Dement fortified a camp at Kellogg's Grove, in the midst of the Indian country; having sallied out with a small party to reconnoitre the movements of a large body of Indians, known to be somewhere in the vicinity of his camp,
he suddenly found himself confronted by some 300 Indians, whose endeavors to surround him made it advisable for him to retire to his camp. This the Indians attempted to storm, but after suffering severe losses in consequence of their exposure to the deadly fire of the men within, retreated, carrying their dead with them. Upon hearing of this engagement, Gen. Atkinson sent a detachment to intercept the flying Indians, whilst he himself, with the main body of his army, moved into the territory of the Winnebagoes, to meet the Indian forces under Black Hawk, then said to have occupied a strongly fortified position near the four lakes, with a determination to decide the fate of war by a general battle. The troops, all of whom were totally unacquainted with the nature of the country they were to enter, and unable to gather information with regard to it, since it was not deemed advisable to trust to the statements of the Winnebagoes, known to be much disposed to join Black Hawk, proceeded slowly and very cautiously through the country: and having passed through Turtle village, marched up along the Rock river to Burnt village, a considerable town of the Winnebagoes. On their arrival thither, news was brought of the discovery of the main trail of the Indians. Preparations were made to examine and follow it the next day. At an early hour of the morning, two soldiers, who had gone to the river, flowing at the distance of 150 yards from the camp, were shot by two Indians from the opposite bank, on being notified of which, Gen. Atkinson questioned some of the Winnebagoes, who followed the camp: being informed by them, that the opposite bank was a large island, on which Black Hawk's entire war-party was fortified, be resolved first to send a detachment on the main trail, and afterwards to cross over to the island, where Black Hawk was reported to have entrenched himself. Part of the volunteers went, accordingly, in search of the trail, and after a most toilsome and arduous march over the so-called “trembling lands,” which are large tracts of turf, about a foot in thickness, resting upon water and beds of quicksand, having exerted themselves in vain to discover the trail, were obliged to return to Burnt village. Neither had the companies, who had crossed over to the island, and overrun it in every direction, been able to discover any vestige of Indians, save of the two, who had shot the two soldiers.
Dissatisfaction soon became general among the volunteers, few of whom, before enlisting, had duly reflected upon the fatigue, drudgery, and great hardships of an Indian war, in an entirely unknown country; and many of them either succumbed to the privations imposed upon them, or left the service altogether, while of the regular soldiery not a single man had been lost. Those of the volunteers, who remained, had been so wasteful with their provisions, that, only four days' rations remaining in the hands of the commissioner, Gen. Ating it.
kinson found it necessary to disperse the troops to obtain provisions, sending Gens. Henry, Dodge, and Alexander, to Fort Winnebago, between the Fox and Wisconsin rivers, whilst he himself, with the regular soldiers, went to Lake Kushkonong to erect a fort, where he could await the return of the volunteers with supplies.
The volunteer generals reached Fort Winnebago within three days, and spent two more in obtaining provisions. Having been informed, on the second day, by the Winnebago chiefs, that Black Hawk, with his war-party, was encamped on Rock river, at the Manitou village, 35 miles north of Gen. Atkinson, they resolved at once to advance upon the enemy; but in the execution of their design, they met with opposition on the part of their officers and men. The officers of Gen. Henry handed to him a written protest, but he, who never wanted presence of mind, even in the most critical situations, ordering the officers to be arrested and escorted to Gen. Atkinson, they at once resumed their duty, and were ever afterwards scrupulous in perform
Whilst Gen. Alexander, whose men were on the point of mutiny, fell back to Gen. Atkinson, Gen. Henry, who had the chief command of the residue of the troops, marched, on the 15th of July, with two Winnebago guides, in pursuit of the Indians, reaching Rock river after a three days' journey; where three Winnebagoes informed him, that Black Hawk was encamped further up the river. Hoping to be able to overtake the enemy, he despatched two messengers, with an Indian guide, to Gen. Atkinson, to notify him of his intended expedition. After travelling for eight miles, these messengers discovered the fresh trail of the main body of the Indians, and immediately returned. Their Indian guide, who had got the start of them, arrived in the camp a little before them, and was just in the act of communicating the discovery to his treacherous countrymen, who, thunderstruck, attempted to leave, when all of them were arrested and marched off to Gen. Henry, whom, to avoid instant death, they mi. nutely advised of Black Hawk's doings.
On the next morning, July 19th, the troops were ordered to commence their march, leaving their impediments and baggage in the
After having made 50 miles, they were overtaken by a terrible thunderstorm, which lasted all night, rendering it impossible for the men to cook a warm supper, or to sleep on dry ground. Nothing