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Historic Diaries: Black Hawk War

April 23: The Militia Prepares to March North

Editor's Note:

Isaiah Stillman (1793-1861), recipient of this letter, was a Massachusetts native who had been chosen a brigadier general in the Illinois militia.


Henderson was a town in central Illinois, on the marching route between the militia rendezvous at Beardstown and Black Hawk's warriors approaching Prophetstown on the Rock River.


The phrase "damage on the Frontier" refers to the many abandoned farms in northwestern Illinois. Rural farmers, afraid of raids from Black Hawk's warriors, abandoned their crops for the safety of garrisons or towns.


John Reynolds to Isaiah Stillman
Beardstown 23rd April :


Dear Sir I will try to march from this place on the 28th inst with mounted men to the mississippi at or near the mouth of Hendersons. This Route is taken as the road direct to Rock River is impassible with wagons. Supplies will meet us on the river.

I have advised Gen Atkinson of my movement and am informed by him that arms are furnished to the Citizens at Hendersons.

The damage on the Frontier seems to be great. I have ordered out 200 mounted men to range about Dixons on Rock River.

You will be vigilant in your exertions.

With respect, your obt sevt
John Reynolds.


To Gen Stillman.



[Source: Whitney, Ellen M., ed. The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832. (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, 1970), p.298]

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