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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

Sauk Military History

Editor's Note:

British Fort at Mackinaw:

In one of the most famous battles of "Pontiac's Rebellion", Indians from various tribes staged a lacrosse game outside the fort at Mackinac for the recently arrived British troops. During the course of the game, the ball went over the walls so often that the British left the gate open. When the Indian leaders gave a private signal, the ball-players rushed the fort and killed most of the unsuspecting soldiers.

Early Green Bay settler Charles de Langlade was a witness, and saved the lives of the British officers and concealed exscaping fur-trader Alexander Henry. The leader of the sneak attack was believed to be an Ojibwe warrior called Match-e-ke-wis; see a summary of the event by Lyman C. Draper at Wisconsin Historical Collections 7:188-194. Many Wisconsin Indians participated, and you can read a Menominee version of the event in Turning Points. For more on Pontiac's Rebellion, see the essay "Colonialism Transforms Indian Life" there.

Another, longer, account of Sauk history was taken down in 1826 by Indian agent Thomas Forsyth, and is available at Turning Points in Wisconsin History.

Sept 5th Fri.

Spent most of the day in writing to a friend Dr. M. of Ohio.

Wars of the Sacs etc.

Mr. D. said, that it was the Sacs who took the British ft. at Mackinaw, and an Indian of his acquaintance, I think a very old man, said that his father killed the British officer.

When driven from Green B. they went to the Wisconsin and from that to Rock River and then a party descended to the Mouth. When they reached the Miss[issippi], they met with the Koos-kas-ke-as [Kaskasias] with whom they had a severe and bloody war. During this time a band of the Sac-kies [Sauks] fell upon a party of old men who were encamped at a place above the Yellow Banks called Pusk-e-to-way-e-nawk - old man's town - and killed them all. At length they vanquished them and drove them from their country. They next crossed the Mississippi and began to fight with the Iowas. Then with Osages, and afterwards with the Sioux, with whom they are at war at the present time.

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