Historic Diaries: Black Hawk War
July 3, Prairie du Chien: Citizens Present Gun to Henry Dodge
This letter of thanks and praise from the citizens of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, shows the rise of Henry Dodge as hero of the Black Hawk War, and the hope of frontier settlers that he would deliver them from the "cruelties of savage warfare."
Dodge, a self-made-man and rugged frontier officer, had came to the Lead Region in 1827 from Missouri with his family and slaves, whom he employed in mining and farming on land that belonged to the Ho-Chunk. His disregard for Indian rights had created problems for agent Joseph Street, who nevertheless signed this letter. Dodge helped ransom the Hall sisters and won the first American victory at the Battle of the Pecatonica.
At the time of the letter given at left, Dodge was on the march toward Lake Koshkonong, where he would join General Atkinson in the hunt for Black Hawk. You can read more about him in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History.
The women of Galena, who signed themselves "Daughters of the Lead Mines," wrote Dodge another such letter of appreciation on June 21. Referring to Dodge as, "Our Father War Chief," they thanked him for his "unwearied exertions" and presented him with a flag. The letter and Dodge's response were printed in the Galenian on July 4.
Citizens of Prairie du Chien to Henry Dodge
Prairie du chien 3d. July 1832
Genl. Henry Dodge:
Sir; The undersigned, Citizens of Prairie du chien, have witnessed, with feelings of high respect and admiration, the patriotic exertions which you have made for the defence of our frontier, against the cruelties of savage warfare. Fully appreciating the nature and motives of the bold and energetic course of conduct which you have pursued in behalf of our suffering country, we send you by Capt: Jas. B. Estes, a double barrelled gun, which we hope you will accept, as a small testimony of the high estimation in which we hold your character as an officer and a Citizen.
We are, with sentiments of high respect and esteem,
Your most obt. Servts.
J. M. Street
T. P. Burnett
W. M. Read
H. L. Dousman
M. B. W. Brisbois
[Source: Whitney, Ellen M., ed. The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832. (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, 1970), p.738]