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Historic Diaries: Black Hawk War

May 8: Gen. Atkinson Takes Over the Militia

Editor's Note:

On this day Gov. Reynolds transferred control of the militia to General Atkinson. The General had failed to convince Black Hawk to leave Illinois peacefully, and now set off to remove him by force. With the militia of 1,700 volunteers (1,500 of them mounted) and his regular army of 340 soldiers, the Americans vastly outnumbered Black Hawk's band of 500 warriors. Atkinson was confident the war would be finished within a month, and on May 10 set off towards the last known location of his adversary, at Dixon's Ferry, in northern Illinois, a two-day march from Rock Island.

Henry Atkinson to John Reynolds
Head Quarters Right Wing West: Depart: Mouth of rock river
8th. May 1832
The attitude assumed by the band of Indians known as Black Hawk's band, and by the Winnebago Prophet & his followers, renders it necessary for the interest of the public service to call upon you for the service of the State troops that you now have in the field. Should you in the exercise of your official functions agree with me in opinion, I will so far as my authority extends as the Commdg Officer of the U.S. troops, and of this district of country, receive them into the service of the U. States.
Gen: Atkinson to Gov: Reynolds

John Reynolds to Henry Atkinson
Camp at the Old Sac Village 8th. May 1832
To Brig. Genl. Atkinson
Sir. Having been this day honoured with your requisition for all the State troops, which I have now in the field, and as I agree with you, that the good of the public requires the service of those troops in the chastisement of the hostile Indians, which have invaded the State, and others, I report and deliver over to you in compliance of said requisition all the troops now organized and in the field including mounted men, and foot, with some at this time ranging on the frontier, the proper officers will report to you the strength of the whole.
With sincere Respect I am your Obt. Servt
John Reynolds

[Source: Whitney, Ellen M., ed. The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832. (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, 1970), p.355]

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